Anemia - iron deficiency
Taking supplements and eating iron-rich foods are important parts of treating iron deficiency anemia. However, you and your health care provider must first search for the cause of your anemia.
Iron supplements (most often ferrous sulfate) are needed to build up the iron stores in your body.
Patients who cannot take iron by mouth can take it through a vein (intravenous) or by an injection into the muscle.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women will need to take extra iron because their normal diet usually will not provide the amount they need.
The hematocrit should return to normal after 2 months of iron therapy. However, keep taking iron for another 6 - 12 months to replace the body's iron stores in the bone marrow.
Iron-rich foods include:
Other sources include:
With treatment, the outcome is likely to be good. However, it does depend on the cause. Usually, blood counts will return to normal in 2 months.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:
Mabry-Hernandez IR. Screening for iron deficiency anemia--including iron supplementation for children and pregnant women. Am Fam Physician. 2009 May 15;79(10):897-8.
Alleyne M, Horne MK, Miller JL. Individualized treatment for iron-deficiency anemia in adults. Am J Med. 2008;121:943-948.
Brittenham G. Disorders of Iron Metabolism: Iron Deficiency and Iron Overload. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 36.
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