Iron Deficiency Anemia
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Iron deficiency anemia is a lack of iron in the blood. Iron is a mineral the body needs to make hemoglobin, which is a part of red blood cells. Hemoglobin helps your blood carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. Your bone marrow also needs iron in order to make healthy red blood cells.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Iron supplements: You may not need a doctor's order for iron supplements. Take your iron supplements on an empty stomach if possible. The iron is absorbed better when your stomach is empty. Vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron. Take your iron pills with a vitamin C supplement or a glass of orange juice. You may take iron pills with a small amount of food if they upset your stomach. Iron pills can cause constipation. They can also cause your bowel movements to be black. Ask your primary healthcare provider which iron supplements are best for you.
- Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Eat iron-rich foods: Iron-rich foods include nuts, eggs, dark leafy green vegetables, and beans. You may need to meet with a dietitian to create the right food plan for you. Ask your primary healthcare provider for more information on an iron-rich diet.
- Drink liquids as directed: Ask your primary healthcare provider what amount is best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.
- Do not smoke: Smoking decreases the amount of vitamin C and iron in your body. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your primary healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
- Wash your hands often: This will help prevent an infection. Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands with soap and water after they go to the bathroom. Also wash hands after changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.
- Avoid people who are sick: You are at higher risk for an infection. Try to stay away from people who have colds or a cough.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have heartburn, constipation, or diarrhea.
- You have nausea or vomiting.
- You are dizzy or very tired.
- You have trouble swallowing because of the pain in your mouth and throat.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have shortness of breath, even when you rest.
- You have blood in your bowel movement or vomit.
- You are too dizzy to stand up.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.