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The Connection Between Iron Deficiency Anemia and Headaches

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There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with iron deficiency anemia, and this condition effects each person in a different way. But one of the symptoms that people are less familiar with is headaches.

Headaches can be mild, moderate, or severe. But regardless of their intensity, headaches get in the way of daily life and may require treatment beyond iron supplementation.

This article discusses the connection between iron deficiency anemia and headaches, as well how headache sufferers can find relief for their pain.

Common Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

The body needs iron to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without enough of this nutrient, the body can’t produce an adequate number of healthy red blood cells to carry the oxygen it needs to function well in other parts of the body.

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These are some of the most common symptoms that one may experience when suffering from an iron deficiency.

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low body temperature
  • Pale skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Sore mouth and tongue
  • Headaches

Iron Deficiencies and Headaches

Headaches are one of the lesser-known symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, but they can often be attributed to low volumes of this nutrient in the body. Low levels of iron may indicate that not enough oxygen is reaching the brain. This is what often causes the pain and pressure of a headache.

Compared to other symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, headaches are less common. But for the individuals who experience them, they are often accompanied by lightshades and dizziness.

Interestingly, an excess of iron in the body is known to cause headaches as well. In fact, an iron overload can be a trigger for migraines. This is why iron balance is so important to overall health and why supplement dosages should be recommended by an experienced medical professional.

Who Is at Risk for Iron Deficiency Headaches?

As a general rule, women are more susceptible to both iron deficiencies and headaches. But this doesn’t mean that men can’t develop these types of headaches as well.

Athletes or people who are very active and who have an iron deficiency may develop headaches more often. Headaches linked to iron deficiency anemia often are triggered by activity and get worse with extended exercise.

Treatment for Headaches

The recommended types of treatment for iron deficiency anemia include dietary changes, supplements, blood transfusions and iron therapy. By treating an iron deficiency, one may effectively eliminate headaches as well. Iron deficiency headaches often resolve on their own once iron stores are replenished. However, headaches that are caused by low iron may require additional treatment to overcome the pain and discomfort.

Over-the-counter medications like Vanquish may be recommended to provide effective, yet gentle headache relief. Doctors may also recommend that headache sufferers use warm or cold compresses on the head or neck and get rest in a dark, quiet room. Relaxation training, massage, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy may also be recommended for individuals who suffer from chronic headaches caused by a wide variety of factors.

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