What Do I Need To Know About Iron Pills
Your doctor may recommend iron pills to help build up your iron levels. Do not take these pills without talking to your doctor or nurse first. Taking iron pills can cause side effects, including an upset stomach, constipation, and diarrhea. If taken as a liquid, iron supplements may stain your teeth.
You can reduce side effects from iron pills by taking these steps:
- Start with half of the recommended dose. Gradually increase to the full dose.
- Take iron in divided doses. For example, if you take two pills daily, take one in the morning with breakfast and the other after dinner.
- Take iron with food .
- If one type of iron pill causes side effects, ask your doctor for another type.
- If you take iron as a liquid instead of as a pill, aim it toward the back of your mouth. This will prevent the liquid from staining your teeth. You can also brush your teeth after taking the medicine to help prevent staining.
Diagnosing Iron Deficiency Anaemia
See your GP if you experience symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia, such as tiredness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
A simple blood test can usually confirm the diagnosis.
Your GP may also carry out a physical examination and ask you a number of questions to help determine the cause of your anaemia.
Iron Deficiency Caused By Esophageal Bleeding
Over time chronic acid reflux, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease , can erode the esophagus and cause bleeding. Iron deficiency anemia can develop due to this blood loss. Most people dont know they have gastrointestinal bleeding until symptoms of iron deficiency develop.
See your doctor immediately if your stools are sticky, black, and tarry, these are signs of gastrointestinal bleeding from the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.
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Iron Supplements And Stomach Irritation
Iron is an essential mineral in your body. Your body doesnt create iron so you must consume it in foods such as leafy green vegetables and red meat. Iron is absorbed into the protein hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Your body needs iron to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. When the body fails to absorb enough iron, people sometimes must take iron supplements. These supplements can often cause stomach irritation.
What If I Forget To Take It
If you forget a dose, take another as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time to take the next dose, then do not take the missed dose at all.
Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember your medicine.
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How And When To Take It
If you or your child are prescribed ferrous sulfate, follow a doctor’s instructions about how and when to take it.
If you buy ferrous sulfate from a pharmacy, follow the instructions that come with the packet.
Ferrous sulfate comes as 200mg tablets or as drops that you swallow.
The drops contain 125mg of ferrous sulfate in each 1ml.
The drops may be easier for children and people who find it difficult to swallow tablets.
Who Can And Can’t Take Ferrous Sulfate
Most adults and some children aged 12 years and over can take ferrous sulfate under the advice of a doctor or pharmacist.
Ferrous sulfate may not be suitable for everyone.
To make sure it’s safe for you, tell your doctor before taking ferrous sulfate if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to ferrous sulfate or any other medicine in the past
- have a different type of anaemia that is not caused by low levels of iron
- have any other conditions that affect your iron levels, such as haemochromatosis or haemosiderosis
- have a condition that affects your red blood cells, such as sickle cell anaemia or thalassaemia
- have a stomach ulcer, have had all or part of your stomach removed, or have other stomach or bowel problems such as inflammatory bowel disease
- are receiving repeated blood transfusions
- have noticed blood in your pee
- have been diagnosed with an iron deficiency and are already receiving treatment for this
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Iron Deficiency Caused By Heartburn Medication
Stomach acid encourages the absorption of iron from food and iron supplements. Reduction in stomach acid from long-term use of heartburn medications like h2 blockers and PPIs leads to iron deficiency.1,2
Heartburn medications provide comfort to millions of people who suffer from occasional heartburn but did you know low stomach acid can actually cause heartburn?
Stomach acid triggers the lower esophageal sphincter to close properly. The LES is the ring of muscle at the base of the esophagus that closes to keep stomach contents in their place and out of the esophagus. Other symptoms of low stomach acid that lead to heartburn are gas, bloating, and constipation. All of which can place added pressure on the LES and cause acid reflux to occur.
If low stomach acid is causing your heartburn and iron deficiency, a hydrochloric acid supplement like Betaine HCl can help increase stomach acid levels and help to eliminate your health issues.
Dry And Damaged Hair And Skin
Dry and damaged skin and hair can be signs of iron deficiency .
Iron deficiency lowers the level of hemoglobin in the blood, which may reduce the amount of oxygen available to cells that cause hair growth .
When skin and hair are deprived of oxygen, they can become dry and weak.
Iron deficiency is also associated with hair loss, and some research suggests it could be a cause (
Restless legs syndrome is a strong urge to move your legs while theyre at rest. It can also cause unpleasant and strange crawling or itchy sensations in your feet and legs.
Its usually worse at night, meaning that you may find it difficult to sleep.
The causes of restless legs syndrome are not fully understood.
However, around 25% of people with iron deficiency anemia have restless legs syndrome. The prevalence of restless legs syndrome is nine times higher in people with iron deficiency compared to the general population .
People with iron deficiency anemia have a higher chance of experiencing restless legs syndrome, which is a strong urge to move the legs when at rest.
The main aim of treatment is to restore hemoglobin levels to normal and replenish iron stores.
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan that best meets your healthcare needs.
Before changing your diet or deciding on any supplements, talk with your doctor.
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Today We Are Focusing On The Most Common Cause I See In The Clinic: Low Levels Of Hydrochloric Acid In The Stomach
Most people know that iron is a vital mineral for our survival. Its required for oxygenation, energy production and DNA synthesis. Rather important functions!
However, I find in clinic that there is a large number of people who are living with undiagnosed iron deficiency anaemia that is driving a lot of their underlying health issues and is often un-addressed.
A huge reason why this is happening is their inability to break down protein and absorb the iron from it due to hypochlorhydria low levels of hydrochloric acid .
Things You Can Do Yourself
If your diet is partly causing your iron deficiency anaemia, your GP will tell you what foods are rich in iron so you can eat more of them.
Eat and drink more:
- dried fruit like apricots, prunes and raisins
Eat and drink less:
- foods with high levels of phytic acid, such as wholegrain cereals, which can stop your body absorbing iron from other foods and pills
Large amounts of these foods and drinks make it harder for your body to absorb iron.
You might be referred to a specialist dietitian if you’re finding it hard to include iron in your diet.
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The Burning Connection Between Anemia And Acid Reflux
If you have acid reflux, you may feel a burning sensation after meals that can send you running to the medicine cabinet looking for relief. But long-term use of some reflux meds can have a potentially dangerous side effect: iron deficiency. Here’s what to know about iron deficiency and acid reflux.
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How To Find Out If You Have Low Iron
The only way to know if you have iron deficiency is through a blood test. A blood test will reveal whether you have low iron, and where you sit on the iron deficiency spectrum. Other tests may be needed to identify whether there is an underlying cause for low iron, such as impaired absorption.
Your doctor may recommend iron supplements if your iron levels are very low, or your requirements are very high. Follow your doctors advice about how often you need to take them, and for how long.
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When Is The Best Time To Take Iron Supplements
You want to make sure you take your iron separately from calcium-rich foods such as dairy products. In contrast, vitamin C helps with iron absorption. Typically, iron is recommended to be eaten separately from food in order to optimize absorption. That said, if you experience nausea with iron supplements, you can take them with food that doesnt contain calcium.
If Iron Deficiency Anaemia Is Not Treated
Untreated iron deficiency anaemia:
- can make you more at risk of illness and infection a lack of iron affects the immune system
- may increase your risk of developing complications that affect the heart or lungs such as an abnormally fast heartbeat or heart failure
- in pregnancy, can cause a greater risk of complications before and after birth
Page last reviewed: 29 January 2021 Next review due: 29 January 2024
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Conditions Associated With Iron Deficiency
Some situations are associated with iron deficiency but don’t cause it. For example:
- Lead poisoning worsens symptoms of other types of anemia, such as iron deficiency anemia.
- Being underweight. Calories from any source do not affect iron absorption. Still, people who are underweight are often iron deficient because there isn’t enough iron in their diet.
- Kidney disease.Erythropoietin is a hormone produced by the kidneys. It plays an important role in stimulating red blood cell production. You may need erythropoietin replacement to stimulate red blood cell production if you have kidney disease. Dialysis does not correct this hormone problem.
- Some cancers, especially those that involve white blood cells, are associated with low red blood cell levels. Leukemia and lymphoma, for example, can impair the production of red blood cells. Most cancer treatments also suppress the production of red blood cells. The lack of red blood cells doesn’t decrease iron levels, but it prevents the iron in the body from doing what it is meant to do.
Low Iron Levels Symptoms
Iron deficiency is extremely common. However, its important to discuss this with your doctor and seek treatment to avoid future complications.
The signs and symptoms of anemia can be mild at first, and many people may not realise they have mild anemia until the results show up in a routine blood test.
Common signs of being anemic include:
- Easy fatigue and loss of energy
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat, particularly with exercise
In addition to the typical reasons, low iron in women can also occur due to:
- Pregnancy Heavy blood loss during childbirth can cause iron deficiency.
- Menstruation Women who experience a heavy loss of blood during menstruation are at greater risk of iron deficiency anemia.
- Endometriosis A woman who has been diagnosed with endometriosis may experience iron deficiency due to internal blood loss in the abdominal or pelvic area.
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How To Easily Find Out If You Have A Low Level Of Hydrochloric Acid
In the most common blood test requested by GPs, Biochemistry you will see a line called Bicarbonate. This is a very good indicator of HcL. If your level is consistently below 27-28, you will have a low level of stomach acid, very likely a low level of protein and a low level of iron.
My bicarbonate level was hovering at 22 for years before I solved this mystery and began addressing the issue.
Easy digestive remedy
How Can Heartburn End Up As Anaemia
Research finds a link between some of the most popular heartburn treatments and iron deficiency, which can lead to anaemia
If you studied chemistry at school, you would probably be aware of the dangers of touching hydrochloric acid. This hazardous, corrosive and smelly chemical comes with a lot of safety requirements including wearing gloves and masks when youre handling it.
What you may not know is that this toxic substance plays an essential role in our own bodies.
Our stomachs produce hydrochloric acid for the digestion of meat and, importantly, the absorption of minerals like iron. But sometimes, this acid doesnt stay only in our stomachs. Instead, it moves up and creates an uncomfortable, burning sensation around the breastbone commonly called heartburn.
This feeling is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, which affects more than 2 million Australians.
As a result, many of us turn to popular medications that suppress gastric acid secretion to manage the reflux disease and its symptoms. The most widely prescribed medications of these acid suppressants belong to a drug class called proton pump inhibitors or PPIs for short, which are used for conditions including indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux and gastric ulcer.
According to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme , over 19 million prescriptions of PPIs were written in Australia between 2013 and 2014.
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Proton Pump Inhibitors And Iron Deficiency
Australian researchers recently published a study that has found a link between the use of proton pump inhibitors and iron deficiency. When iron levels in the body are insufficient, it can lead to anemia, a condition in which the amount of hemoglobin decline to dangerously low levels. Untreated, anemia puts excess strain on the heart muscle, causing a lack of oxygen and leading to serious organ damage. In extreme cases, it can be fatal.
The study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicinethis past August, found that commonly-used PPIs such as Prilosec and Nexium may prevent the body from absorbing iron, a necessary nutrient found in foods such as leafy greens, dried fruit, and cruciferous vegetables . The reason is directly tied to why people use such medications in the first place to inhibit the production of stomach acid. It turns out that acid is necessary for iron intake.
PPIs, in both prescription and over-the-counter versions, are indicated for gastroesophageal reflux, commonly known as heartburn. They are also prescribed for peptic ulcers. Used occasionally, these medications pose a relatively little risk however, when taken over extended periods of time, they can have a range of serious side effects. These include an elevated risk of stroke due to arterial injury, kidney disease, accelerated aging and dementia, fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity , osteoporosis, pneumonia, colitis, and even stomach cancer.
Causes Of Low Ferritin Research Findings
In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study, French and Swiss researchers decided to check low ferritin symptoms. They wanted to see whether iron supplementation would help women with fatigue symptoms who had either low or borderline ferritin levels but were not anemic .
Interestingly, the normal reference range for ferritin in women is typically 18 to 160 mcg/L, but the researchers considered any level below 50 mcg/L to be borderline low.
The researchers randomly assigned 198 women with unexplained fatigue to take either 80 milligrams of iron a day or a placebo. Over 12 weeks, women on iron supplements noticed a significant improvement in their fatigue. On average, scores on a standard measure of fatigue fell by nearly half from about 25 to 13, on a scale of zero to 40 among women getting the extra iron.
Those in the placebo group also improved, but not as much as those in the iron group. They concluded their study by stating that in women with unexplained prolonged fatigue, iron deficient should be considered when ferritin values are below 50 µg/L, even when hemoglobin values are above 12.0 g/dL.
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Diagnosis Of Iron Deficiency
To diagnose iron deficiency your doctor may order a series of medical tests.
First, your blood will be tested to determine the red blood cell count and the level of iron in your blood. If blood and or iron level is low, further tests may be performed to determine the deficiencys cause. These tests could include:
- Testing your stool for blood
- Capsule endoscopy
What Are The 3 Stages Of Iron Deficiency
- First stage: Iron stores are depleted. …
- Second stage: When iron stores are low, the normal process of making red blood cells is altered. …
- Third stage: Iron-deficiency anemia develops because there isn’t enough iron to make hemoglobin for red blood cells.
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How Is It Diagnosed
Often a blood test is ordered that shows the number of your red blood cells are low. Next, iron blood tests are ordered. If you are low in iron, it is important to look for a cause of the iron deficiency. Your health care provider will ask many questions and potentially order a test to check your stool for hidden blood.
The next step is typically evaluating your GI tract for sources of blood loss with both a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy. If these tests are unrevealing for a source of blood loss, possibly the next step will be capsule endoscopy. With this test, you swallow a small capsule that looks like a pill, but is actually a camera. This tiny camera will record pictures of your GI tract, specifically the portions of the small intestine that are not evaluated with the colonoscopy or upper endoscopy.
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