TreatmentTo treat iron deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend that you take iron supplements. Your doctor will also treat the underlying cause of your iron deficiency, if necessary. AS IRON DEFICIENCY ANEMIA IS USUALLY CAUSED BY AN UNDERLYING CONDITION, TREAT UNDERLYING CAUSES IF POSSIBLE. MANAGEMENT OF BLEEDING • Treat ongoing bleeds such as hemorrhage, trauma, GI bleeds, or menorrhagia • Reduce use of NSAIDs or blood thinners where possible MANAGEMENT OF MALABSORPTION CONDITIONS • Eradicate H.pylori infections
• Reduce consumption of foods such as coffee and tea• Stop H2RAs, PPIs, and antacids where possible DIETARY MEASURES
ADEQUATE INTAKE (AI): The recommended average daily intake level based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people that are assumed to be adequate; used when an RDA cannot be determined. RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCES (RDA): The average daily dietary nutrient intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97-98%) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group (IOM 2006).
Iron supplementsYour doctor may recommend over-the-counter iron tablets to replenish the iron stores in your body. Your doctor will let you know the correct dose for you. Iron is also available in liquid form for infants and children. To improve the chances that your body will absorb the iron in the tablets, you may be instructed to:
- Take iron tablets on an empty stomach. If possible, take your iron tablets when your stomach is empty. However, because iron tablets can upset your stomach, you may need to take your iron tablets with meals.
- Don’t take iron with antacids. Medications that immediately relieve heartburn symptoms can interfere with the absorption of iron. Take iron two hours before or four hours after you take antacids.
- Take iron tablets with vitamin C. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron. Your doctor might recommend taking your iron tablets with a glass of orange juice or with a vitamin C supplement.
Recommended Daily Dosing of Elemental Iron for Treating Iron Deficiency Anemia
- The adult recommended dosing range for treating iron deficiency anemia is: 100 mg to 200 mg elemental iron per day
- In infants and children, the recommended dosage range is: 3 mg to 6 mg elemental iron/kg/day
- In pregnancy, the recommended dosage range is100 mg to 200 mg elemental iron per day
Treating underlying causes of iron deficiencyIf iron supplements don’t increase your blood-iron levels, it’s likely the anemia is due to a source of bleeding or an iron-absorption problem that your doctor will need to investigate and treat. Depending on the cause, iron deficiency anemia treatment may involve:
- Medications, such as oral contraceptives to lighten heavy menstrual flow
- Antibiotics and other medications to treat peptic ulcers
- Surgery to remove a bleeding polyp, a tumor or a fibroid
Things to avoid when taking your iron supplementCertain foods and beverages when combined with iron can reduce its absorption. To ensure you get the full benefit from your iron supplement, avoid the following for at least 1 hour before and 2 hours after taking your iron supplement: Check with your pharmacist to see if your iron supplement should be spaced apart from other medications you may be taking. Remember, making dietary changes to include more heme or non-heme iron is an effective and important part of maintaining a healthy supply of iron for your red blood cells. See our Food Sources of Iron insert for more information about managing iron deficiency and tips for maintaining healthy body iron stores.
Preparing for your appointmentMake an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs and symptoms that worry you. If you’re diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, you may need tests to look for a source of blood loss, including tests to examine your gastrointestinal tract. Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you’re taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
- What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long lasting?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
- I have another health condition. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctorYour doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Have you noticed unusual bleeding, such as heavy periods, bleeding from hemorrhoids or nosebleeds?
- Are you a vegetarian?
- Have you recently donated blood more than once?