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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Are shortness of breath, fatigue and headache caused by iron deficiency anemia?

Answered by
Dr. Olsi Taka


Practicing since :2004

Answered : 3608 Questions

Posted on Wed, 22 Mar 2017 in Brain and Spine
Question: Hello...I was wondering...what is the cause of facial tingling. I have read articles about vit b12 deficiencies...pernicious anemia to nerve damage...nerve dysfunction. I have been having slight facial tingling for about 3 days now. I don't know if its from iron deficiency anemia...b12 deficiency or what. A few times I had a pain on rhe right side of the back of my neck...and I had not had a somewhat short sleep. I recently had an MRI done and it said it showed arteriosclerotic vs demyelinating disease. I DON'T want either of those things. I do plan on taking b12 supplements AND getting a second opinion. The reason for the MRI was to rule out stroke due to me experiencing sudden weakness on left arm...and tingly feeling on the right side of face that comes and goes
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
B12 or iron deficiency unlikely

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

Facial tingling can have many causes. I do not think iron deficiency anemia is likely as to cause such sensation symptoms due to low oxygen levels it should be severe and have other more pronounced symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, headache etc.

Peripheral neuropathy may be a cause. Vitamin B12 is only one of the many possible causes of peripheral neuropathy. I still wouldn't say it is the most likely hypothesis as usually it manifests with abnormal sensations in the extremities not the face. However since testing for vitamin B12 levels is a routine cheap test it can easily done if you really want to rule that out.

Metabolic and hormonal issues such as glucose and electrolyte abnormalities, high thyroid function etc may also be a cause. If not already done you will most probably have some routine blood tests anyway which will check for the above (anemia, metabolic, thyroid and vit B12 alterations).

Another possibility is also anxiety. I usually mention that last as one wants to make sure other possibilities are excluded, but in common day practice it is perhaps the most frequent cause.

Now coming to the MRI results. Brain lesions can manifest with weakness of the limbs or abnormal sensations in the face. Demyelinating disease like Multiple sclerosis would justify those symptoms you describe, so unfortunately it is a possibility. Of course you should get a second opinion. If multiple sclerosis is among the diagnostic possibilities though, I think most probably a lumbar puncture with examination of the cerebrospinal fluid will be required.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

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