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Iron Deficiency Anemia

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Your doctor will probably have you take iron supplement pills and eat foods rich in iron to treat your anemia. Most people begin to feel better after a few days of taking iron pills. But do not stop taking the pills even if you feel better. You will need to keep taking the pills for several months to build up the iron in your body.

If your doctor finds an exact cause of your anemia, such as a bleeding ulcer, your doctor will also treat that problem.

If you think you have anemia, do not try to treat yourself. Do not take iron pills on your own without seeing your doctor first. If you take iron pills without talking with your doctor first, the pills may cause you to have too much iron in your blood, or even iron poisoning. Your low iron level may be caused by a serious problem, such as a bleeding ulcer or colon cancer. These other problems need different treatment than iron pills.

You can get the most benefit from iron pills if you take them with vitamin C or drink orange juice. Do not take your iron pills with milk, caffeine, foods with high fiber, or antacids.

You can prevent anemia by eating foods that contain iron every day. Iron-rich foods include meats, vegetables, and whole grains such as iron-fortified cereals.

You can prevent anemia in babies and children by following recommendations for feeding infants and making sure babies and children get enough iron.

If you are pregnant, you can prevent anemia by taking prenatal vitamins. Your doctor will give you prenatal vitamins that include iron. Your doctor will also test your blood to see if you are anemic. If you are anemic, you will take a higher-dose iron pill.

Learning about iron deficiency anemia:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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