“Signs and symptoms are the clues that help put the puzzle pieces together.” C. Hartley, Iron Disorders Institute volunteer, Western North Carolina


Symptoms of Iron-Out-of-Balance™

Symptoms will vary depending if a person has too much iron or too little iron. Some people can have abnormal iron levels and experience no symptoms whatsoever. Although there are some symptoms or signs specific to low or high iron, such as the “Iron Fist” in hemochromatosis patients or paleness of mucous linings of the iron deficient, not everyone with hemochromatosis experiences the knuckle pain and not everyone who is iron deficient will experience pale mucous lining.

Symptoms provide important information and should not be dismissed as trivial. However, a diagnosis cannot be made on symptoms alone. For a diagnosis of an iron disorder, specific tests are needed and sometimes procedures are required to reach a complete diagnosis.

We encourage patients to write down symptoms to share with their doctor. Our “Symptoms Checklist Form” provides some of the more common complaints of people with iron disorders. Ironically fatigue is the first and most frequently reported symptom for people with either high iron or low iron.

Symptoms of Too Much Iron

  • chronic fatigue
  • joint pain
  • abdominal pain
  • diabetes mellitus
  • irregular heart beat (arrhythmia)
  • congestive heart failure
  • (early death by heart attack)
  • skin color changes (bronze, ashen-gray green)
  • women: period is irregular or stops
  • apathy: loss of interest in sex
  • osteoporosis
  • osteoarthritis
  • hair loss
  • enlarged liver or spleen
  • impotence
  • infertility
  • hypogonadism
  • hypothyroidism
  • depression
  • mood swings  
  • adrenal function problems
  • early onset neurodegenerative disease
  • elevated blood sugar
  • elevated liver enzymes
  • elevated iron (serum iron, serum ferritin)

Symptoms of Too Little Iron 

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • pica (urge to eat non food items: dirt, ice, hair, coins, etc)
  • shortness of breath
  • irregular heart beat
  • sensitivity to cold weakness
  • pale skin and membranes (inside of mouth, eyelids)
  • restless legs syndrome
  • sore tongue
  • spoon-shaped fingernails
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • syncope (loss of consciousness)
  • enlarged spleen

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