Women and Anemia

Women and Anemia

Most of the time, anemia symptoms are mild at first and develop slowly. General symptoms may include:1

  • Feeling weak or tired more often than usual, or with exercise
  • Headaches
  • Problems concentrating or thinking


As the anemia gets worse, symptoms may include:

  • Blue color to the whites of the eyes
  • Brittle nails
  • Light-headedness when you stand up
  • Pale skin color
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore tongue

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Because iron deficiency tends to develop slowly, adaptation occurs and the disease often goes unrecognized for some time, even years; patients often adapt to the systemic effects that anemia causes. In severe cases, dyspnea (trouble breathing) can occur.2


  • Other symptoms and signs of iron deficiency anemia include:2
  • Anxiety often resulting in OCD-type compulsions and obsessions
  • Irritability or a low feeling
  • Angina
  • Constipation
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Palpitations
  • Hair loss
  • Fainting or feeling faint
  • Depression
  • Breathlessness
  • Twitching muscles
  • Pale yellow skin
  • Tingling, numbness, or burning sensations
  • Missed menstrual cycle
  • Glossitis (inflammation or infection of the tongue)
  • Koilonychia (spoon-shaped nails) or nails that are weak or brittle
  • Poor appetite
  • Pruritus (itchiness)

Symptoms of Megaloblastic Anemia

Symptoms of megaloblastic anemia can vary among individuals, but common symptoms include:3

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Smooth or tender tongue
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Numbness in extremities

Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia

PA presents insidiously, and many of the signs and symptoms are due to anemia itself, where anemia is present. Untreated pernicious anemia can lead to neurological complications, and in serious cases, death. Common symptoms include:4

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Weight loss
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Jaundice
  • Glossitis (inflammation or infection of the tongue)
  • Brittle nails
  • Thinning and early graying of the hair


Because PA may affect the nervous system, symptoms may also include:4

  • Difficulty with movement and orientation
  • Memory changes
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Impaired urination
  • Loss of sensation in the feet
  • Muscle weakness

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1Website [Internet]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001610/

2Website [Internet]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_deficiency_anemia

3Website [Internet]. Available from: http://www.healthline.com/health/megaloblastic-anemia

4Website [Internet]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pernicious_anemia