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Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA)

You have been diagnosed as having an iron deficiency anaemia. Iron is an important compound needed for growth, your immune response and for producing haemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen around your body.

How to take iron supplements:

You should take your iron supplements first thing in the morning, with a small glass of orange juice, at least 1 hour before any food, tea, coffee or milk.

If you take antacid medications, such as omeprazole or lansoprazole, you will need to discuss this with your doctor, as these affect iron absorption. If you need to continue with antacid medication, it is best if these medications are taken at least 2 hours after your iron supplements.

Tea and coffee can both decrease your absorption of iron. Therefore, only drink these drinks between meals, not with or just before/after food.

You should increase your dietary intake of iron:

  • Food containing high levels of iron:
  • Lean red meat
  • Turkey and chicken
  • It is well known that liver is rich in iron, but liver is NOT recommended for pregnant women because of its high Vitamin A content.
  • Fish, particularly oily fish which can be frozen or canned (such as mackerel, sardines and pilchards)
  • Eggs
  • Breakfast cereals – some cereals have been ‘fortified’ with iron.
  • Pulses and beans – canned baked beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Nuts (including peanut butter) and seeds.
  • Brown rice
  • Tofu
  • Bread, especially whole meal or brown bread
  • Leafy green vegetables, especially curly kale, watercress, and broccoli
  • Dried fruit in particular dried apricots, raisins and prunes

Potential side effects and what to do if experiencing them:

When taking iron supplements, it is important to note some common side effects:- Constipation

  • Dark stools
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea

If you suffer with any of these, you can take the iron supplements every other day instead of daily and see if this eases your symptoms. Please let your doctor know if you are having side effects from this medication.

Further blood tests:

You must have your blood tests checked 4 weeks after initiation of iron supplementation. Please book in for these blood tests with reception. This is to check you have had an adequate response to the medication.

Blood tests for iron must be taken in the morning and whilst fasted (only water is allowed to be drank before the test).

Once your iron levels have returned to normal, you will need to continue taking the iron replacement for a further 3 months, to ensure replenishment of iron stores.

You then need to have your bloods checked every 3 months for the first year after diagnosis, and then every 6 months for the next 2-3 years. It is your responsibility to book these tests in with reception.

 

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