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Iron Deficiency Anemia


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is low levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin caused by a lack of iron in the blood. Iron helps make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is part of your red blood cell and helps carry oxygen to your body. The most common causes are blood loss and not enough iron in the foods you eat.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have shortness of breath, even when you rest.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have dark or bloody bowel movements.
  • You are too dizzy to stand up.
  • You have trouble swallowing because of the pain in your mouth and throat.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have heartburn, constipation, or diarrhea.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You are dizzy or very tired.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Iron or folic acid supplements will help increase your red blood cell and hemoglobin levels.
  • Bowel movement softeners may be needed if the iron supplements cause constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her 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.

Eat foods rich in iron and protein:

Nuts, meat, dark leafy green vegetables, and beans are high in iron and protein. Do not drink coffee, tea, or other liquids with caffeine. Limit milk to 2 cups a day. You may need to meet with a dietitian to create the right food plan for you.

Drink liquids as directed:

Liquids help prevent constipation. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Learn more about Iron Deficiency Anemia (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptom checker

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.