Talk to your Doctor
If you have been feeling fatigued or have any other signs of iron deficiency (ID), you may want to speak to your doctor.
It could be that you are iron deficient. 1,2 To get the most out of your visit it is useful to think about the information that the doctor might need in order to work out what is causing your symptoms, such as:
- How long you have felt fatigued and whether it is better or worse after sleeping or exercise
- How your extreme tiredness affects your daily life
- Whether your symptoms appeared after a certain event or change in your life 3
- Whether you have any risk factors for ID, such as pregnancy, or an underlying inflammatory condition
- What medication you are currently taking 3
- What your everyday habits are, including how much alcohol you drink and how much exercise you do 3,4
Testing for Iron Deficiency
If you are concerned about your symptoms, it is important that you find out with certainty whether ID is the reason.
As well as discussing your symptoms and your medical history, your doctor may want to take a blood sample from you. Different analyses can then be performed on your blood sample. Since ID and eventually iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) occurs in stages, your doctor will need to check: 1
- Are you iron deficient?
- Are you anaemic?
Laboratory tests are essential for a proper diagnosis of ID. They are the most informative when multiple measures of iron status are examined. A complete blood count will measure the amount of haemoglobin (Hb) in your blood and identify if you are anaemic. 5 Other tests will measure your iron stores, known as your ferritin levels. 3
How is Iron Deficiency Treated?
You don’t have to accept your symptoms and adjust the way that you live, ID can be treated.
Once your doctor has done tests and confirmed whether you are iron deficient, they will advise you on the best treatment option. The treatments may include improving the amount of iron in your diet by eating more iron rich foods, or by taking iron in the form of oral iron tablets, or intravenous iron. 3,6 It is best to find out from your doctor which treatment is best suited to your specific needs.
- Mayo Clinic. Iron Deficiency Anaemia. Symptoms and Causes. [online] [cited 2017 July 25]. Available from: URL: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20266514.
- Patterson AJ, Brown WJ, Powers JR, Roberts CK. Iron deficiency, general health and fatigue: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Qual Life Res 2000;9(5):491-497.
- Abbaspour N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R. Review on iron and its importance for human health. J Res Med Sci 2014;19(2):164-174.
- Peeling P, Dawson B, Goodman C, Landers G, Trinder D. Athletic induced iron deficiency: new insights into the role of inflammation, cytokines and hormones. Eur J Appl Physiol 2008;103:381-391.
- Dean L. Chapter 1. Blood and the cells it contains. Blood Groups Red Cell Antigens 2005:1-6.
- Goddard AF, James MW, McIntyre AS, Scott BB, British Society of Gastroenterology. Guidelines for the management of iron deficiency anaemia. Gut 2011;60(10):1309-1316.
- Geisser P. Safety and efficacy of iron (III)-hydroxide polymaltose complex: A review of over 25 years experience. Arzneimittel-Forschung 2007;57(6a):439-452.
- Burckhardt-Herold S, Klotz J, Funk F, Buchi R, Petrig-Schaffland J, Geisser P. Interactions between iron (III)-hydroxide polymaltose complex and commonly used drugs / simulations and in vitro studies. Arzneimittel-Forschung 2007;57(6a):360-369.
- Geisser P. In vitro studies on interactions of iron salts and complexes with food-stuffs and medicaments. Arzneimittel-Forschung 1990;40(7):754-760.
- Borbolla JR, Cicero RE, Dibildox M, Sotres D, Gutiérrez R. Iron hydroxide polymaltose complex vs iron sulphate in the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia in infants. Revista Mexicana de Pediatria 2000;57(2):63-67.