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Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Deficiency and Anemia

By Valerie Webber

The body needs iron to make red blood cells. You might develop anemia If if you don’t get enough iron in your normal diet, if your body doesn’t absorb it properly, if you lose a lot of blood or if your body is breaking down red blood cells faster than it can make new ones, you might develop anemia. If you can’t meet your body’s iron needs through diet, you might need to supplement with ferrous sulfate. If you have symptoms of anemia, see your doctor for a blood test.


Anemia develops when you don’t have enough red blood cells in your blood. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to all the parts of your body, anemia can make you feel exhausted. People with mild anemia usually don’t notice any symptoms. But those with moderate to severe anemia may look pale, feel tired, have headaches, be irritable and suffer from general malaise. Some people with anemia have an irregular heartbeats and chest pain.


There are many causes of anemia, including vitamin B12 deficiency, blood loss, certain types of cancer, Celiac or Crohn’s disease and overuse of some over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and antacids. If you think you’re anemic, it’s important to see your doctor so she can make a proper diagnosis. She will also need to determine the underlying cause to treat it appropriately. For example, if you suffer from B12 anemia, taking iron supplements won’t help.


The American Society of Hematology states that the most common type of anemia in the United States is iron deficiency, which is usually caused by either blood loss or an inability to absorb iron. Your doctor will rule out serious issues like intestinal bleeding. For women, anemia can be related to monthly cycles: According to the National Anemia Action Council, 9 to 16 percent of menstruating women are iron-deficient. In addition to dietary changes, your doctor might ask you to take ferrous-sulfate supplements to increase the iron in your body.


Most adults take ferrous sulfate as a pill, but it can also come in liquid form. If you’re severely anemic or can’t tolerate the pills, your doctor may administer the supplement intravenously or as an injection. You may experience an upset stomach or constipation when taking ferrous sulfate, MedlinePlus reports. Taking the supplement with orange juice can help your body absorb the iron better. It’s also best if you can take it on an empty stomach. Your anemia symptoms may improve within a few days. But if you have been low on iron for a long time, you may need to take the supplements for several months to replenish your body’s iron stores.

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