Iron deficiency or iron deficiency anaemia should not be self-diagnosed or self-treated.1 It is important for the cause of any iron deficiency to be identified by your healthcare professional. If you suspect you might be at risk for iron deficiency and may be experiencing some symptoms, speak to your healthcare professional to determine a diagnosis.1
The best diet plan for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia includes foods rich in iron and other vitamins – like vitamin B and C – which are essential to haemoglobin and red blood cell production.2 These include leafy greens, meat and poultry, liver, seafood, fortified foods, beans, nuts, and seeds.2
It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks of taking regular iron supplements before your symptoms start to improve.3 It is important to speak to your healthcare professional to determine how long you should be taking your iron supplement or receiving treatment. Iron deficiency should not be self-treated.1
The most common reason for iron supplements not working and symptoms not improving is that they are not taken, or not taken properly.3 It is important to follow your healthcare professional’s recommendations exactly, even if you may be feeling better.3 It may be the case with some people that they cannot tolerate taking oral iron.3 If this is the case, you may be given iron intravenously or as an injection in the muscle.3
When iron treatment is working you may notice that you have more energy, healthier skin, improved focus, and a stable appetite.4
Iron is an essential nutrient but, in excess, it can be toxic to the body.5 Your healthcare professional will decide on what dosage is appropriate for you based on your blood values. This is why it is important to discuss dosages and treatment with your healthcare professional.
Some iron treatments may cause gut irritation, stomach pain, and nausea.6 Iron can be taken with a meal to reduce the risk of these gastrointestinal side effects, but this could affect iron absorption.6 Taking iron supplements with food or drinks that contain vitamin C can improve iron absorption6, but it is best to discuss side effects with your healthcare professional to assess dosage and other potential options for supplementation or treatment of iron deficiency.
Fatigue can be a symptom of iron deficiency, therefore you may notice an improvement in the fatigue experienced when you receive iron treatment.7 Iron deficiency should not be self-diagnosed or self-treated, however, so if you suspect that the tiredness you feel may be due to iron deficiency, speak to your healthcare professional to determine a diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
Poor appetite is often associated with iron deficiency anaemia.8 Oral and intravenous iron supplementation or treatment can, in fact, increase your appetite.8 Oral iron, however, is associated with gastrointestinal side effects in some patients, such as stomach pain and nausea, which could impact appetite.6 It is, therefore, important to speak to your healthcare professional to determine the course of treatment best suitable to you.