Mild iron deficiency may not cause any symptoms. When iron deficiency has progressed to actual anemia, there can be fatigue, breathlessness, unusually pale skin, and a decreased ability to exercise. People who have had severe iron deficiency for a prolonged period sometimes complain of trouble swallowing or have a sore mouth or tongue. In some cases, there can be unusually brittle fingernails or an abnormal curling and softness of the nails called spooning.
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