Encyclopedia Home / I / Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia

  • Alternative Names

    Anemia - iron deficiency


    The cause of the iron deficiency must be found, especially in older patients who face the greatest risk for gastrointestinal cancers.

    Iron supplements (ferrous sulfate) are available. For the best iron absorption, take these supplements with an empty stomach. However, many people cannot tolerate this and may need to take the supplements with food.

    Patients who cannot tolerate iron by mouth can take it through a vein (intravenous) or by an injection into the muscle.

    Milk and antacids may interfere with the absorption of iron and should not be taken at the same time as iron supplements. Vitamin C can increase absorption and is essential in the production of hemoglobin.

    Pregnant and breastfeeding women will need to take extra iron because their normal diet usually will not provide the required amount.

    The hematocrit should return to normal after 2 months of iron therapy. However, iron should be continued for another 6 - 12 months to replenish the body's iron stores in the bone marrow.

    Iron-rich foods include:

    • Eggs (yolk)
    • Fish
    • Legumes (peas and beans)
    • Meats (liver is the highest source)
    • Poultry
    • Raisins
    • Whole-grain bread

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    With treatment, the outcome is likely to be good. Usually, blood counts will return to normal in 2 months.


    There are usually no complications. However, iron deficiency anemia may come back. Get regular follow-ups with your health care provider.

    Children with this disorder may be more likely to get infections.

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms of this disorder
    • You notice blood in your stool