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Iron Deficiency Anemia


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a lack of iron in the blood. The most common causes are blood loss and not enough iron in the foods you eat. Iron is part of your blood and helps carry oxygen to your body.



You may need any of the following:

  • Iron supplements will help replace iron in your body. Take iron on an empty stomach. It is absorbed better when your stomach is empty. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron. Take iron with a vitamin C supplement or a glass of orange juice. Do not eat or drink any dairy products within 2 hours after you take iron. Take iron with a small amount of food if it upsets your stomach.
  • Bowel movement softeners help treat or prevent constipation caused by iron supplements.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your primary healthcare provider (PHP) 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.

Eat iron-rich and protein-rich foods:

This includes nuts, meat, dark leafy green vegetables, and beans. Limit caffeine. You may also need to limit milk to 2 cups a day. You may need to meet with a dietitian to create the right food plan for you. Ask your PHP for more information about an iron-rich diet.

Drink liquids as directed:

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

Follow up with your PHP as directed:

You may need to return regularly to have your iron checked. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your PHP 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.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have trouble swallowing because of the pain in your mouth and throat.
  • 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.