Medical Options for Iron Deficiencies
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for an iron deficiency, as the best remedy depends upon the severity of condition and type of lifestyle.
When a doctor treats an iron deficiency, he or she focuses on increasing the iron the body stores to reach normal levels.
Since there are many different symptoms associated with this nutrient deficiency, doctors may also have to treat the symptoms caused by the deficiency in the body.
If you have an iron deficiency, these are some treatment options to consider and discuss with your doctor.
Natural Treatments with Iron-Rich Foods
One natural and easy way to treat an iron deficiency is to eat more foods that contain high amounts of iron. Some foods have more iron than others, because iron is naturally found in some foods and can also be added to other fortified food products.
Red meat is the best source of iron; however, some people do not eat red meat because of other health conditions, religious beliefs, or environmental concerns. Other meats that are rich in iron include chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish. Vegans or vegetarians can try incorporating these iron-rich, non-meat foods into your meals.
- Dried prunes, apricots, and raisins
- Spinach and kale
- Prune juice
Sometimes iron-rich foods alone aren’t enough to get iron up to a healthy level. Supplements, such as Fergon, come in the form of pills to swallow, but other varieties can also be purchased as drops for children.
It’s important to only take the recommended dosage of iron supplements, because iron overdose is possible and dangerous. Many doctors will recommend taking iron tablets with vitamin C to help with the absorption of iron. It’s also often recommended that you avoid taking iron supplements with antacids because these can impair absorption.
Iron supplements interact with the human body to build up iron stores, so you supplements may be needed for several months before iron levels fully return to normal. However, most people start to feel their symptoms ease within just a few days of starting a supplement treatment.
In severe cases of iron deficiency, some doctors recommend blood transfusions to get more red blood cells in the body. Although the blood must be matched with the blood of a donor, this is a generally safe and routine procedure that involves delivering new blood through an IV line in a blood vessel.
This treatment typically clears up the symptoms of an iron deficiency right away. However, this is only a short-term treatment and is usually only used for patients whose deficiency puts them at risk for other serious conditions. For example, hospital patients who have coronary heart disease may sometimes benefit from a restricted red blood cell transfusion strategy.
Another iron deficiency treatment for severe cases is IV therapy, in which a doctor injects iron into a muscle or into a blood vessel through an IV line. This is a rare treatment that is usually only recommended when a patient is unable to take a supplement in pill form. This includes patients such as older adults, pregnant women who have pregnancy-related gastrointestinal symptoms, and anyone else with serious gastrointestinal disorders.
If you are experiencing any or all the symptoms of iron deficiency, ask your doctor about which option is best for you and your health.
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