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Iron Deficiency Anemia Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • If you have symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, you should see a healthcare provider to be diagnosed and treated.
  • Eat a well rounded diet to make sure you’re getting enough iron.
  • Also see a provider if you have been diagnosed, but your fatigue has increased despite taking your medications.
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Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Dizzy spells or fainting

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All treatments for iron deficiency anemia
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Read more about iron deficiency anemia care options

When you may need a healthcare provider

If you have iron deficiency anemia, you need to see a healthcare provider. They will treat you for low iron and try to figure out what is causing the deficiency. Treatment usually includes iron therapy and treating your underlying causes of anemia.

You should also see a provider if you are taking OTC oral iron and cannot tolerate the side effects. They will also monitor your anemia to make sure treatment is working. Some people may need to switch to intravenous (IV) iron therapy. Generally IV iron therapy is given to those who cannot tolerate oral therapy, have an underlying condition blocking absorption of oral iron, or have severe anemia or ongoing blood loss, for example, because of heavy menstruation.

Getting diagnosed

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and health and will likely order blood work to check your iron levels and iron stores and look for potential causes. If your doctor is concerned about a disorder that causes poor absorption of nutrients (like celiac) or gastrointestinal bleeding, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist (digestive disease doctor) for an endoscopy like an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (upper endoscopy) or colonoscopy to view the inside of your digestive tract.

What to expect from your visit

Depending on the cause of your iron deficiency anemia and your medical history, your provider will either recommend you take oral iron, which is available over-the-counter, or schedule you for intravenous iron therapy.

Your doctor will likely recommend oral iron unless you have certain medical issues. IV therapy usually lasts 1–2 sessions.

You may need intravenous iron therapy if:

  • You cannot tolerate the side effects of oral iron therapy
  • You want to restore iron in one or two visits instead of over several months.
  • Your anemia is from gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • You have had stomach surgery or weight loss surgery.
  • You have a malabsorption disorder like celiac disease, Whipple’s disease, bacterial overgrowth, H.pylori infection, or autoimmune gastritis.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You have chronic kidney disease or cancer.

Types of providers

  • A primary care provider can treat the majority of cases of iron deficiency anemia that are not complicated.
  • A gastroenterologist (digestive disease doctor)  may help in identifying the cause of iron deficiency anemia if your provider thinks that you have a digestive tract issue.
  • A hematologist (blood disease specialist) can help diagnose you and try IV therapy if needed.
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