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Low Haemoglobin Levels: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment



Haemoglobin is a protein molecule that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and organs. It is a critical component of red blood cells and low levels of haemoglobin can result in a condition known as anaemia. Anaemia can be caused by a variety of factors including nutritional deficiencies, chronic disease or blood loss. 

Normal haemoglobin levels in human blood can vary slightly depending on age, gender and other factors. The normal range for haemoglobin levels in adults is 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter (g/dL) of blood for men and 12.0 to 15.5 g/dL of blood for women. In children, the normal range can vary depending on age. 

Symptoms of low haemoglobin levels can vary depending on the underlying cause. It is crucial to understand the symptoms of low levels of haemoglobin. 

Signs and Symptoms of Low Haemoglobin Levels 

  1. Fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of low haemoglobin levels is fatigue. You may feel tired and weak, even after a good night's sleep. You may also have a reduced tolerance for physical activity. 

  1. Pale Skin

Haemoglobin gives blood its characteristic red colour and low levels of haemoglobin can result in pale skin. Your skin may appear paler than usual, especially on the face and inside of the eyelids. 

  1. Shortness of Breath

Haemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to the body's tissues and organs. Low levels of haemoglobin can result in a reduced oxygen-carrying capacity, leading to shortness of breath, even with light exertion or at rest. 

  1. Headaches

Anaemia can cause headaches, especially in people who experience chronic low haemoglobin levels. These headaches may be accompanied by dizziness or lightheadedness. 

  1. Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat

Haemoglobin is also responsible for carrying carbon dioxide away from the body's tissues and organs. Low levels of haemoglobin can result in an accumulation of carbon dioxide, leading to a rapid or irregular heartbeat

  1. Cold Hands and Feet

Anaemia can cause reduced blood flow to the extremities, leading to cold hands and feet, even in warm environments. 

  1. Chest Pain

In severe cases of anaemia, your heart may have to work harder to compensate for the reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. This increased workload can result in chest pain, especially with exertion or deep breathing. 

  1. Brittle Nails 

Haemoglobin is also responsible for providing nutrients and oxygen to the nails. Low levels of haemoglobin can result in brittle nails that break easily. 

  1. Craving For Strange Substances

Some people with anaemia may experience pica, a condition in which they crave non-food items like dirt, clay or ice. The reason for this craving is not well understood but it may be related to a deficiency in certain nutrients. 

It is important to note that not all individuals with low haemoglobin levels will experience all of these symptoms and the severity of symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause and the individual. 

There are some rare symptoms that you could experience as well. Swelling in arms and legs, persistent heartburn, bloody stools, excessive perspiration and vomiting are some of these rare symptoms.

Causes of Low Hemoglobin Levels 

There are several possible causes of low haemoglobin levels including: 

  1. Nutritional Deficiencies: Iron, vitamin B12 and folate are essential nutrients for the production of haemoglobin. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can result in anaemia. 
  1. Chronic Disease: Chronic diseases like kidney disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders can interfere with the body's production of red blood cells, leading to anaemia. 
  1. Blood Loss: Acute or chronic blood loss can result in anaemia. Acute blood loss can be caused by an injury, surgery or childbirth, while chronic blood loss can result from conditions like heavy menstrual bleeding or gastrointestinal bleeding.
  1. Inherited Conditions: Some people are born with inherited conditions that affect the production of haemoglobin or red blood cells such as sickle cell anaemia or thalassemia
  1. Pregnancy: During pregnancy, a woman's body produces more blood to support the developing fetus. If the body is unable to keep up with this increased demand, anaemia can result.

Treatment for Low Levels of Haemoglobin

  1. Iron Supplementation: If the anaemia is caused by iron deficiency, iron supplements in the form of pills, capsules or liquid may be prescribed by your doctor. Foods rich in iron like meat, poultry, fish and beans can also help increase iron levels. 
  1. Vitamin Supplementation: In cases where anaemia is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B12 or folic acid, vitamin supplements or injections may be recommended by your doctor. 
  1. Blood Transfusion: In cases where anaemia is severe and life-threatening, a blood transfusion may be necessary to increase haemoglobin levels. 
  1. Medications: Certain medications may be prescribed to stimulate the production of red blood cells and increase haemoglobin levels. 
  1. Treatment of Underlying Conditions: If anaemia is caused by a chronic disease such as kidney disease, cancer or HIV, treatment of the underlying condition may improve haemoglobin levels. 
  1. Dietary Changes: Eating a healthy and balanced diet rich in iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 can help prevent anaemia. 

It's important to consult your doctor to determine the underlying cause of low haemoglobin levels and to discuss the appropriate treatment options. 


Low levels of haemoglobin can lead to various issues including anaemia. The body can show many symptoms if your haemoglobin levels are low. Symptoms include fatigue and weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness and lightheadedness, rapid or irregular heartbeats and brittle nails. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your doctor without delay. A simple blood test like serum haemoglobin will help you know the haemoglobin level in your body. If you are confused about choosing a lab, contact Metropolis Labs! With at-home sample collection and accurate reports, it is the most reliable laboratory for all diagnostic tests. 

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