Anemias are a group of disorders that are characterized by a reduction in the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia is just one type. It can be caused by malnutrition, hookworms, and diets with limited meat, fresh fruit, or fresh vegetables. This type of anemia often has no symptoms and is best diagnosed by a blood test done at a physician's office.
The treatment for iron deficiency anemia includes iron supplementation with diet and iron preparations. There are multiple iron supplement products available with and without a prescription. Iron supplements come in several forms that include: ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous fumarate, and polysacaride iron complex. The differences in these formulations rest in how much iron can be absorbed from the product. To get the most iron from any iron supplement, use a non-sustained release prduct, take the supplement about and hour before meals, and do not use a combination product such as antacids. Iron products are sometimes difficult to tolerate and can cause stomach upset. To increase tolerability, take the supplement in 2-3 divided doses daily and take with food if given approval by a physician. Report any difficulties in tolerability or for questions about your iron supplement, consult your pharmacist.