Iron deficiency; Pernicious anemia
Symptoms of anemia vary depending on the severity of the condition. Anemia may occur without symptoms and be detected only during a medical examination that includes a blood test. When they occur, symptoms may include:
Pica. One odd symptom, which in some cases is also a cause of iron deficiency, is pica. This is the habit of eating unusual substances, such as ice (called pagophagia), clay, cardboard, foods that crunch (such as raw potatoes, carrots, or celery), or raw starch. The pica often stops, particularly in children, when iron supplements are given. Pica is difficult to detect because patients are often ashamed to admit to such cravings.
Frequent Breath Holding. Children who hold their breath frequently when angry or upset, even to the point of fainting, may be iron-deficient.
Symptoms of Megaloblastic Anemia. The symptoms of megaloblastic anemia from vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiencies include not only standard anemic symptoms but also:
Over time, psychiatric and neurologic problems develop. Vitamin B12 deficiencies cause neurologic symptoms (numbness and tingling, depression, memory loss, and irritability), and folate deficiency may result in depression and dementia (in severe cases).
Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia. Early neurologic symptoms of pernicious anemia are due to B12 deficiency. They include numbness and tingling, depression, memory loss, and irritability. Advanced nerve damage can cause loss of balance and staggering, confusion, dementia, spasticity, loss of bladder control, and erectile dysfunction. Folic acid deficiency does not cause neurologic damage, although people with this deficiency can be irritable, forgetful, and experience personality changes.
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