Iron pills generally start to work within 3-7 days. However, it takes at least 4 weeks for hemoglobin levels to go up.
Oral iron supplements are usually taken on an empty stomach. This helps reduce the effects of foods that inhibit iron absorption. You should continue to take them as long as your doctor advises.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Symptoms of iron deficiency can often be improved with simple lifestyle changes and taking oral iron supplements. However, for people who have more serious symptoms of iron deficiency or who are unable to get enough iron from their diet, intravenous (IV) iron treatment may be needed.
Feeling tired is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency. This is because the body does not have enough iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps carry oxygen in the blood. If the body does not have enough hemoglobin, it is unable to deliver oxygen to the muscles and tissues, and this can make you feel tired (2).
Another symptom of iron deficiency is difficulty thinking clearly. If you have trouble thinking or concentrating, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will do a blood test to check your iron levels and may also order other tests to find out what is causing your anemia.
If the doctor recommends iron pills, they are typically taken on an empty stomach. However, some people find that this makes them feel nauseous or have stomach cramps. If this is the case for you, it might be helpful to take the iron with a small amount of food or switch to a different iron pill, such as ferrous gluconate.
Liquid iron can stain the teeth, so it is best to drink it through a straw or brush your teeth after each dose. It is also important to keep iron out of the reach of children as accidental ingestion could be fatal.
Iron is stored in the body in several places, including the bones, the liver and the spleen. When the body is low on iron, it will draw from these stores to make red blood cells. This can cause a decrease in the number of red blood cells and anemia.
Most people who are iron deficient will start to feel better within a few weeks of starting iron supplements. However, it can take up to six months for a person’s hemoglobin levels to return to normal. This is because it takes time for the body to replace the lost blood cells.
Taking iron supplements
When taken appropriately, iron supplements can help to relieve the symptoms of anemia. However, it can take a while for them to begin working. This is because the body needs to absorb iron before it begins to improve symptoms of anemia. Some people may feel the effects of iron supplementation within weeks, while others may need a few months before they notice any changes. The process of taking iron supplements can be confusing, especially because it takes time for the body to absorb iron. There are many different factors that influence how long it will take for iron supplements to work, including dosage, form, and side effects.
When you start to take iron, it can be helpful to discuss your iron levels with a doctor. This will allow them to ensure that you are taking the correct amount of iron. They can also advise you on how best to manage any side effects that you might experience.
It is important to note that taking too much iron can be harmful and lead to serious health issues. This is because too much iron can prevent the body from absorbing other nutrients, which can cause a variety of negative side effects. In addition, excessive iron intake can cause damage to the liver and intestines, which can lead to severe health problems including kidney failure and coma.
If you are diagnosed with anemia, your doctor will likely prescribe oral iron supplements. These can be in the form of pills, tablets, or powders. You will need to follow the recommended dose as per your doctor’s instructions. It is important to take these supplements on an empty stomach, as it helps with absorption. You should also avoid foods and drinks that contain antacids or milk, as these can decrease the amount of iron absorbed by your body.
In some cases, a doctor might recommend an iron injection. This is an effective option when oral iron supplements are not available or cannot be tolerated. This treatment can be administered in a hospital or clinic.
It is also worth noting that there are a number of different forms of iron supplements on the market, and they each come with their own advantages and disadvantages. You should always choose a brand that is safe and reliable, such as Active Iron. This Irish company’s Kind & Strong formulation is gentle on the stomach, and it has been proven to be highly effective at improving iron levels in the bloodstream.
Intravenous (IV) iron
Iron infusions provide a direct route of administration for those who cannot ingest oral iron. These infusions can help treat iron deficiency anemia by correcting low iron levels and providing energy and improving concentration. Typically, it takes 2 to 3 weeks to notice results. Some people will experience black stools following the infusion, which is normal. Anti-diarrhea medication can be used to ease the symptoms of this side effect.
Iron infusion therapy is usually performed at a doctor’s office, hemodialysis center or a medical facility. A registered medical professional will insert a needle into a vein and connect it to an IV bag containing iron. You will feel a slight pressure or prick when the needle is inserted, and you may feel some chills from the fluid entering your body. It is important to wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid uncomfortable chills during the infusion. You can also take an antiemetic pill before the infusion to reduce the chances of feeling nauseous.
Some patients may experience a metallic taste in the mouth and joint pain after the infusion, but these symptoms are usually mild. If you have any allergic reactions, such as swelling of the face or lips, hives or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
There are seven different intravenous iron formulations, and each has unique clinical applications. They are characterized by differing toxicities, efficacy and safety. The most commonly used formulation is ferric carboxymaltose, and it can be administered in both acute and chronic settings. It is also widely used for perioperative anemia to prevent blood transfusions and improve the surgical outcomes of patients undergoing major abdominal surgery.
Compared to placebo, iron infusions significantly reduced the risk of having to undergo a blood transfusion in the perioperative period. The PREVENTT study found that IV iron was superior to placebo for the primary endpoint of reducing blood transfusion rates, but not for the secondary endpoint of reducing complications associated with large blood transfusions (Table 1).
However, it is important to remember that IV iron is not a cure for anemia and it is only suitable for those with severe, symptomatic disease. Oral iron supplements are available for those with less severe anemia.
Side effects of iron supplements
Many people take iron supplements to help prevent anemia and boost their energy levels. However, some people develop unwanted side effects from taking too much iron. Iron overload, or hemochromatosis, can damage the liver, kidneys and pancreas. It can also affect the heart, causing the blood vessels to thicken, leading to a heart attack.
To avoid this, patients should only take iron in doses prescribed by their doctor. They should always drink plenty of water, avoid consuming high-fiber foods, and take the supplement on an empty stomach if possible. Taking the pill with food can decrease how much iron is absorbed, and foods like spinach, nuts and beans can actually interfere with absorption. The pill should never be crushed or chewed, as this can lead to gastrointestinal side effects.
Most iron pills have gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea and vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, flatulence and a metallic taste in the mouth or throat. If these side effects become too severe, the patient should discuss with their healthcare provider. Medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen can reduce these side effects.
Iron deficiency is common and can occur for a variety of reasons. It can be caused by a poor diet, certain diseases that cause malabsorption (like celiac disease or cystic fibrosis), or chronic illnesses such as kidney disease and inflammatory bowel syndrome. It can also be caused by conditions such as liver disease, cancer and HIV infection.
Depending on the reason for anemia, symptoms will start to improve within two to three weeks of starting iron supplements. However, it can take four to six months to replenish your iron levels. Your healthcare provider will check your iron levels routinely and will continue to prescribe oral iron supplements until they are at normal levels. They may recommend continuing to take iron for another few months after your levels have returned to normal to ensure your body has built up adequate stores of the mineral.