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What is Iron Deficiency Anemia Treatment?

By K. Testa
Updated: Feb 16, 2024

Iron deficiency anemia treatment addresses the type of anemia characterized by a lack of iron in the body. Iron is necessary to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to cells. Some symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include pale skin, frequent dizziness and extreme fatigue. People often develop anemia gradually and without noticing any symptoms until they become serious. Since they are unaware that they have it, they might not know how to treat it. Examples of iron deficiency anemia treatment include dietary changes, iron supplements, and other treatments based on the root cause of the condition. Some conditions that may result in iron deficiency anemia include Crohn's disease and various types of cancer.

A basic lack of iron in the diet is a common cause of anemia. Women are especially prone to iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy, when they must have enough iron available for themselves and a fetus. An iron deficiency also can occur because of blood loss due to menstruation, uterine fibroids, or bleeding ulcers. Some people’s bodies simply lack the ability to absorb iron.

Physicians usually diagnose iron deficiency anemia with blood tests, including one to measure hemoglobin levels. The doctor might order additional diagnostic tests if the patient’s blood tests reveal anemia and he or she wants to identify an underlying cause. Iron deficiency anemia treatment options are based on the exact cause and the patient’s risk factors. The most common treatments include dietary modification, iron supplements, or treatment of the underlying cause.

Iron deficiency anemia due to a lack of iron in the diet often can be corrected by eating more iron rich foods. Dietary modification alone might not be the most effective treatment for iron deficiency anemia, but it is a step in the right direction. Iron rich foods include red meat, turkey, legumes, egg yolks, beans, and iron-fortified and whole-grain breads and cereals. Certain fruits and vegetables, as well as most types of meat, poultry, and fish, also may help iron absorption when eaten with other iron rich foods.

Physicians often prescribe iron pills in conjunction with dietary adjustments. Patients should consult their health care providers about iron supplements rather than attempting to correct the deficiency on their own. Iron pills often can fix the problem, but medical experts warn against self-medicating or over medicating with iron, which can be dangerous in high amounts. Iron replacement shots are an alternative iron deficiency anemia treatment if the patient prefers not to take pills.

In many instances, the physician also may opt to provide treatment for the underlying cause of the anemia, since it might indicate a more serious health problem such as an ulcer, one of a number of diseases or various types of cancer. In severe cases when every other iron deficiency anemia treatment is ineffective, a blood transfusion to restore iron might be necessary.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Feb 13, 2014

I had severe anemia due to very frequent and heavy periods last year. I was scared to see a doctor for a while but I finally did. The treatment turned out to be very simple. I'm taking a birth control pill right now which has reduced the volume and length of my periods. I also take an iron supplement during menstruation. I'm doing great on this regimen. If anyone is suffering from anemia due to menstruation, please don't worry. The treatment is easy and can resolve all of your issues.

By literally45 — On Feb 12, 2014

@ZipLine-- The recommended daily intake of iron is actually very low. It's only 8mg/day for adult males and 18mg/day for adult females. Most of us get enough iron through food. People who have iron deficiency usually have an underlying condition causing an anemia disorder.

It's not a good idea to supplement with iron on your own without seeing a doctor first. Even if you have symptoms of anemia and iron deficiency, you need a diagnosis for it to be treated. You can take too much iron or too little and both will cause problems.

So please see a doctor and take supplements if your doctor recommends them. He or she will also specify how much you should take.

By ZipLine — On Feb 12, 2014

I have symptoms of anemia. I'm always tired, I'm pale, I feel light-headed often and crave ice. All of these are symptoms of an iron deficiency so I'm sure that this is the problem. Should I go ahead and take iron supplements? How much should I take daily?

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