Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. This can happen when you do not get enough iron from your diet or lose too much blood due to injury or heavy menstrual periods. If you’re wondering, “how soon after taking iron supplements will I feel better”, this article should help to guide you.
Iron deficiency anaemia causes symptoms that include fatigue, dizziness and irritability. Luckily, there is a simple treatment for iron deficiency. The most common treatment is taking an iron supplement on a daily basis; how long this treatment will take to make you feel better depends on how severe your condition is.
What is iron-deficiency anaemia?
Iron-deficiency anaemia is a condition that develops when you don’t get enough iron from your diet or if you have lost too much blood. Iron is essential for haemoglobin production, which is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen around the body. If you don’t get enough iron in your diet or have a condition that causes excessive bleeding, this can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia.
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia?
If you have iron-deficiency anaemia, the following symptoms may develop:
- fatigue and weakness
- heart palpitations
- brittle nails
- hair loss or thinning
- pale skin and lips
- cold hands and feet
- sore or inflamed tongue
- unusual cravings
The symptoms may vary depending on how severe your deficiency is. If left untreated, symptoms will become worse. A simple blood test can determine if you are deficient.
What causes iron-deficiency anaemia?
Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to create haemoglobin or is lacking in other essential vitamins and minerals. These are the most common causes:
- Lack of iron in the diet. Vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency.
- Blood loss from menstruation or heavy periods.
- Blood loss in the digestive tract. Ulcers and colon polyps may bleed in the digestive tract and lead to iron-deficiency anaemia.
- An inability to absorb iron. Absorption issues with the gut can lead to a deficiency of many vitamins and minerals, not just iron.
- Pregnancy. Iron supplements are commonly required in pregnancy as the body needs to increase blood stores.
What is the most common treatment for iron deficiency anaemia?
The most common course of action for a patient suffering from iron deficiency anaemia will be to take an oral supplement. The supplements available are usually tablets that can be taken between one and three times a day as recommended by your doctor.
Typical iron supplements include:
How soon after taking iron supplements will I feel better?
This all depends on the severity of your deficiency. For a mild deficiency, you could start to feel better a few days after starting treatment. It’s important that you don’t stop taking the supplements once you feel better as you need to give your body time to restore its iron levels.
For a mild deficiency, you will likely have to take iron supplements for a specific period and then return to your doctor for another blood test. This will confirm if the treatment has worked.
For more severe deficiencies, it could take weeks or even months before you feel better. In this instance, you will likely need to keep taking iron supplements as part of your daily routine.
When you take iron supplements, you may notice some unpleasant side effects. These include:
- dark stools
You can manage these side effects by taking your iron supplements with a meal. You should also avoid drinking tea or coffee close to taking your iron supplements. This is because caffeine prevents your body from absorbing iron.
Having too much iron in your body can also cause problems, so it’s important to only take iron supplements if your doctor recommends it.