Irritability and altered behavior - Are these symptoms of severe anaemia?


Q: Hello Sir/Ma'am, My wife was recently diagnosed with severe anemia. Besides the physical symptoms of this, are there also mental symptoms that can occur. She used to be so a easy going, loving, and hurmorous woman. But recently since she had began experiencing the anaemia symptoms she has changed. Mood swings all over the place, anxiety, detachment, sadneess, random anger, complete loss of sex drive, highs and lows. I never really know what I am going to get and it seems just about anything can set off her temper. She is having a blood transfusion soon. But could severe anemia cause any of these mood swings and behavior? Thank you for your time.


A:   The usual presenting symptoms in adults with iron deficiency are primarily due to anemia and include weakness, headache, irritability, fatigue and exercise intolerance. There is also evidence to suggest that altered behavior is associated with iron deficiency anaemia, due to deficiency of non-haemoglobin proteins. Therefore potentially all of your wife’s symptoms may be explained by iron deficiency anaemia. If there is no evidence of an improvement post blood transfusion, your wife should contact her family doctor to find another cause for these symptoms.

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