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Quickest/Best way to get iron levels back up? And how can I get more oxygen??

(51 Posts)
LadyOfWaffle Thu 24-Jul-08 23:03:08

Mine have kept dropping despite taking 2 Spatones in orange juice a day and now are at 10.4 with only 2 weeks left to go. I was offered a blood transfusion after having DS and my iron levels were alot higher at this point so am panicing abit! Also with it I am finding it hard to breathe sometimes, literally like I am not getting oxygen in - I stick my head out the window and take big breaths but wondered if there is something I can do to help with that. Thanks

greenlawn Thu 24-Jul-08 23:15:16

I'm feeling very similar and have just posted on this - horrible feeling I'm anaemic as I remember that breathless, weak feeling from before.

Why did you have a blood transfusion - was it due to blood loss? (if you don't mind me asking).

Sorry no great advice other than with the breathing try not to take big gulps, slow it down - I only say this as I've noticed myself panicking before and trying to gulp in air and it just makes me feel even more dizzy.

AvenaLife Thu 24-Jul-08 23:20:25

What are your levels now? Are you panicking? Is this why you are short of breath?

LackaDAISYcal Thu 24-Jul-08 23:22:02

I think the only thing that'll help is to get your iron levels back up as it's the red blood cells that carry the oxygen around your body. Have they not offered you iron injections?

Are your levels low normally?

LadyOfWaffle Thu 24-Jul-08 23:33:44

Offered blood transfusion last time due to blood loss and really low iron. I am not panicing as in panic attcks, I meant I am abit worried that if I don't get my iron levels back up it'll increase my chances of actually having to have a blood transfusion this time. Not been offered any injections - my hb at the moment is 10.4.

LadyOfWaffle Thu 24-Jul-08 23:36:00

I don't get short of breath in the same way as if i'd just been jogging, it's like I am breathing in air that has very little oxygen... hard to explain.

AvenaLife Thu 24-Jul-08 23:37:44

Go for the transfusions. 10.4 is low to deliver on, I had one the same when I had ds and I collapsed in the toilet after having him. It's the fastest way. You can have Iron injections but even they need time to kick in.

You should phone the hospital if you are short of breath. Low Hb will make you dizzy, it shouldn't make you short of breath. They should check you over tonight if you are short of breath. Do you have someone to look after your little one?

LadyOfWaffle Thu 24-Jul-08 23:51:30

I want to avoid the transfusion (if I need one this time) as much as I can so will eat a ton of spinach if I have to to avoid it ! I am not short of breath as in gasping for breath, more... like I am not getting enough in. Will phone MW if it happens again though I guess. I do have DH for the next week and a half to look after DS which is good (if it's needed). I wonder why they never suggested the injections? Maybe it's for under 10 or something... Although mine was 6.4 after DS and I only got tablets to go home with (after not wanting the transfusion) so maybe they don't do them in this area? Hmm

AvenaLife Thu 24-Jul-08 23:57:51

My friend was telling me about her Hb, her's was about 6.9. Her GP gave her tablets, the GP she works for asked her why she wasn't in hospital having a transfusion. Spinach won't work very quickly to be honest with you, nor will tablets. iron stores in the body can take a long time (at least 6 months in some people) to get to a decient level. Injections work faster then the tablets, a transfusion works even faster. A low level can cause serious problems as it will reduce the amount of oxygen going to your brain. Sometimes they need a kick up the arse. 6.4 is way to low. You must have been feeling really ill.

cityangel Fri 25-Jul-08 00:32:46

Have you tried Floradix? Or would it just be the same as Spatone?

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/49/535160

www.vegansociety.com/html/food/nutrition/iron.php

I remember reading you need to have vitamin C in conjunction with the iron so its absorbed. A kiwi midwife said when they had no medicine they'd recommend pineapple and parsley mashed up together hmm

good luck

Ovaltine

thumbwitch Fri 25-Jul-08 01:18:52

Don't take tons of spinach it contains oxalates which can create stones if you have too much; plus it contains phytates which can combine with the iron and various other minerals and prevent them from being absorbed.

you do need to take vitamin C in conjunction with iron to aid absorption. Don't get tabs from the doc they are iron sulphate which is poorly absorbed and can give bowel problems. I would avoid the transfusion at Hb 10.4, you don't need it yet and it is not without risk.

Go to a health food shop and get some iron citrate or iron ascorbate tablets - they are much easier to absorb than iron sulphate. Also, eat more red meat (you aren't a vegetarian are you?) as the iron is most easily absorbed as haem (in the blood of the meat) so a nice rare steak will help. With a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or strawberries for dessert.

BabiesEverywhere Fri 25-Jul-08 07:04:44

My midwife has me on Floravital (Same as Floradix but with added vitamins) Spatone didn't increase my iron levels at all.

greenlawn Fri 25-Jul-08 08:21:02

Sorry didn't get a chance to add this last night - it was my bedtime!

The reason I mentioned gasping is because the last pregnancy I started to get asthma for the first time ever - I was gasping for breath and this was causing me to panic and feel dizzy. I found out it was due to a combination of anaemia and hayfever (which I'd never even considered). I managed to get my iron up by the time I gave birth and although I was given an inhaler I tried not to rely on it. Everything resolved after the birth, although I notice I still get wheezy in the summer now even if I'm not pregnant.

Agree to avoid the iron tablets if possible - they gave me a terrible tum.

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 08:43:52

ok now I'm freaking out a bit. My last iron level was 6.9. It's been low for several weeks... but came up from 4.8. At the start it was 9.4. I'm taking 2 iron tablets 3X per day and still feeling exhausted and last week iron level was 6.9. GP was stumped about what to do... so she suggested I take 3 tablets 3X per day. She ASSURED me that baby is fine and ("like a parasite") taking all of the iron from me and that I will be just tired. Reading this and another article from a friend a few days ago has got me really worried about what will happen when baby is born (it's early yet - i'm 28+5). I'm always short of breath and often I get the racing heart/short of breath sensation.

lackDAISYcal - What is this iron injection? Should I suggest it to the GP? She didn't even suggest that to me!!

Now I'm worried that the GP is not taking this seriously enough. If 10.4 is low... she should be a bit more concerned about 6.9!!!!! But maybe it doesn't matter so much at 28+5?

crokky Fri 25-Jul-08 08:58:14

LadyOfWaffle - am I right in thinking you are 38 weeks pg? Why don't they just deliver your baby? Both mine were delivered at 37 weeks due to another complication, neither needed SCBU. I am not familiar with your particular complication so don't know the implications for you, but if you are very ill, I'm not sure why the pg is being prolonged? I apologise if this reply is ignorant.

tiggerlovestobounce Fri 25-Jul-08 09:05:54

10.4 isnt terribly low for being pregnant. In later pregnancy you are carrying more fluid, which "dilutes" your blood, so your levels can seem lower.
I think that most people wouldnt be breathless on that level, could it be due to the pressure from the baby. When I was heavily pregnant I found it difficult to breathe, but I think that was from the baby pressing upwards.

have a look at this

penona Fri 25-Jul-08 09:14:32

Hello
I have always been anaemic and when pg with twins even more so. I collapsed in the doctors waiting room (ha ha!) at about 20 weeks so then they started to take my sliding iron levels more seriously, but again just gave me the tablets, ferrous sulphate.
I asked a nutritionist friend about the iron and she suggested floradix/floravital. So I duly glugged that every day and my iron went up pretty quickly. I gave birth with a c-sect and lost 5 pts of blood, but STILL didn't need a transfusion as my iron bounced back really quickly. The doctors were amazed after all the problems in my notes.

Star6 - I would start on something like floradix/floravital asap. It is a tonic you drink and is very gentle, I found the tablets made me v constipated which was most unpleasant!! My GP didn't worry too much about a 10.4 reading, but when I got admitted to AnE (for severe vomiting) they were shocked it was so low (by then around 7)!! It really matters in early pg as it will only get worse as the pg goes on.

As for the breathless thing, I had this constantly in my later pg and was being monitored all the time as my blood pressure was also very low which is an odd combination. But I think it was just that there was so little space for the babies and me that my lungs were squashed! Plus it was v hot last summer (like it is now). It stopped the minute they were born.

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 09:58:02

Thanks Penona - I will ask the GP about floradix today.... can I just get it from the chemist, actually?

penona Fri 25-Jul-08 10:57:02

Yes you can get it from health food shops. or even from Boots I think. it also comes in capsules but apparently they are not as effective. Floravital is a yeast-free alternative for those who have yeast sensitivities. You have to keep it in the fridge and you drink it - a small capful twice a day. Don't drink near tea as apparently the tannin can inhibit iron absorption. It tastes a bit like a fruity malty beer!!!
My GP was pretty dubious about Floradix and told me to keep taking the tablets but since the Floradix stayed down and the tablets didn't (I had hyperemesis - extreme morning sickness) I just stuck with that! Would be interested what your GP thought of it.
if you are going to a good health food shop (not like a Holland and Barratt, a decent independent one) there are lots of good iron citrate supplements which someone could recommend. I think I took a BioForce one too, but can't remember. will try and find out.
Don't freak out too much, you have plenty of time to get this sorted, but do take it seriously, anaemia will wipe you out esp once you have given birth!!!
Good luck!

gem1981 Fri 25-Jul-08 11:02:59

I can say that I am a HUGE fan of Floradix

Sainsburys sell it near me and so do most chemists if not they can order it in and it usually only takes a day or 2.

I am about to start taking it (28 weeks) as my iron levels dropped to 8 after having DS and i too was offered a transfusion but I refused - I took floradix afterwards and it helped get me back to normal quite quickly.

Plus (I might be a bit wierd) I think it tastes nice!!!!

thumbwitch Fri 25-Jul-08 13:13:14

GPs are frequently dubious about "alternative" forms of iron. Ignore them - they prescribe iron sulphate because it's the cheapest form but it's also the worst form to absorb and the most likely to cause bowel problems.

Floradix is great. And much easier to take as a liquid. Tannins can inhibit absorption of minerals including iron so avoiding tea is a good recommendation.

star6 - if you are not veggie either then I would strongly recommend you start eating some red meat as well - your Hb is pretty low and if you went to hospital with that Hb for any other reason they would probably give you a transfusion (I used to be a transfusion scientist).

fifisworld Fri 25-Jul-08 13:44:17

I was reffered to my Maternity Assesment Unit last year as my h.b was about 7.4 i think. I was about 33 weeks when i was reffered and went in once a weeks at first for Venefer, which is basically an iron drip. Then from 37 weeks i was in twice a week and my hb got up to about 11.6 i think which they were happy with.
I would mention it to your midwife and see if you can be reffered smile

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 14:34:27

Thanks! I just got floradix from holland and barrett and asked my gp about it - she said give it a try since nothing else is working.
Thumbwitch - unfortunately, I am a vegetarian... Only for a few years - but I've not eated Red meat since I was 10 years old (and forced to).
I've taken my first dose of the floradix... and it tastes delicious!! I'll try not to overdose! grin lol. I'm wondering if it's safe to just take double the amount recommended on the box since the gp had me taking so many tablets anyway. I'll ask her. Thanks so much!!! I really hope this works out. Thank goodness for MN

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 14:44:29

Thanks for starting this thread ladyofwaffle... sorry to hijack it with my similar problem - it's been a great help, though... lots of helpful information. Try the floradix. It's yummy!!!

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 18:21:16

OK, GP said that floridax has even less iron in it than the iron tablets so it probably won't work... I'm thinking it might since it has all of that stuff in it to help the body absorb it... so... can I just drink a lot of it at once to get more of the iron? I guess what I'm asking is... Is it possible to Overdose on floridax? I've googled this with no results.

Aubergenie Fri 25-Jul-08 19:14:25

This is a timely thread, as I've just been told my iron levels have dropped even more. I was taking 2 spatone sachets every day, but it obviously hasn't done the trick. I was given iron tablets but know from previous experience that the side effects are grim. Dried figs and apricots are a good source of iron so I've started eating them to counteract the side effects and hopefully give my iron levels a boost.

I was wondering the same as you Star. Does anyone know if it would be bad to take floradix and one iron tablet a day?

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 19:49:53

bump!

AvenaLife Fri 25-Jul-08 19:57:26

I don't think this is a good idea to be honest, the theraputic levels in the iron tablets you have been prescribed are probably not having an effect because it does take a while for iron levels in blood to change. I would see your GP if you are still considering this though.

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 20:03:05

I did... gp said she doesn't know about floradix but knows that the iron level in it was really low.
I've been trying to get my iron levels up since the 1st trimester (now 29 weeks). Had regular blood tests and nothing seems to have worked so far. Gp said she is running out of ideas... just lovely...

AvenaLife Fri 25-Jul-08 20:07:18

Iron sorbitol injections should raise your levels quickly or maybe she should try a different Iron tablet. Are you taking them after meals?

TheBlonde Fri 25-Jul-08 20:07:36

ask your GP for a referral to a haematologist

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 20:08:49

thanks! will ask about both

AvenaLife Fri 25-Jul-08 20:09:12

What's the name of your medication?

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 20:11:58

ferrous sulphate 200mg.
I took 2 tablets 3X per day for about 8 weeks. Didn't help. Tried substituting that with spatone. Took both things with orange juice.
Now, gp wants me to try 3 tablets 3X per day.

how about some of these:

NB take all with vit C to help absorbtion so organge juice or blueberries/fruit afterwards!

Chickpeas very high and so is molasses, which I like on pancakes/cereal.

Eggs - especially the yolk
Oily fish e.g. tuna, sardines, pilchards,
Lamb, game
Wholemeal bread and flour
Iron-fortified cereals - Bran, Branflakes, Weetabix
Beans and pulses e.g. lentils, chick peas, haricot, kidney, pinto, baked, butter, peas
Nuts - almonds, cashews, Brazils, walnuts
Dried fruit - apricots, figs, dates
Green vegetables - watercress, spinach
Rich fruit cake, gingerbread, ginger biscuits
Curry powder
Cocoa, chocolate, black treacle

Aubergenie Fri 25-Jul-08 20:14:49

Incidentally, how quickly/slowly can you expect to see an increase in iron levels if tablets /dietary changes are having an effect?

very quickly. within a day or two energy levels start picking up.

goodasgold Fri 25-Jul-08 20:17:36

My GP prescibed me iron tablets and told me to take 3 a day, which when I looked at the Floravital was 6 times the amount of iron, so I think you could safely take Floravital/dix more than the suggested amount. Check with your GP/pharmacist to put your mind at ease. I was desperate to get my hb levels up for my homebirth. Low hb has been linked to PND so keep it up after the baby is born. I did start to feel so much better after a couple of weeks of taking them.

Don't just avoid tea when you take the iron, cut it out completely. It's worth it when you actually notice how well and energised you feel, after feeling rotten for so long.

I remember that breathless feeling, where if you make the bed you have to sit down afterwards, it's horrid isn't it? and it is a symptom of aneamia.

Best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy and birth.

meglet Fri 25-Jul-08 20:18:14

caffiene inhibits absorbtion of iron I beleive. So keep it to a minimum and don't take your tablets close to drinking tea/cofee/coke. (not entirely relelvant fact but my step-mum is always anaemic despite eating really well, but she drinks lots of tea and coffee at work).

AvenaLife Fri 25-Jul-08 20:18:59

I would try what she's suggested, just be aware that a high dose can cause constipation/tummy pain. Sprouts have more vitamin c in them then oranges (I have been told), ask for somethng else if this does not work.

I would ask her if you should be referred to a haematologist aswell.

PinkPurple Fri 25-Jul-08 20:24:16

Solgar Gentle Iron are fabulous.

They are easily absorbed,
decent strength (20mg) per capsule,
vegetarian,
dont taste bad (loads of people dont like the smell or taste of floradox/spatone)
and are not expensive...?10 for 3 month supply (I'm in Ireland),
You can get them online or in any good health store (probably not in holland and barrett)

hope that helps smile

star6 Fri 25-Jul-08 20:26:05

thanks everyone, this is really helpful. I will try anything - everything!!
I never drink tea/coffee/fizzy drinks, so no caffeine - good to hear that's worth it!! I have been adding in some dark chocolate though... which I was told was high in iron, but I know this has caffeine.
Thanks again!!

also beware of constipation so if you are taking the tablets drink lots of extra water and have dried fruit/high fibre cereals too! good luck.

PinkPurple Fri 25-Jul-08 20:45:04

oops...forgot to add the main point

They DONT cause constipation or upset the stomach

hence why they are so fab grin

Spatone is great, doesn't make you constipated!

juuule Fri 25-Jul-08 22:02:33

Strong nettle tea drank throughout the day helped to raise my iron levels. It was strong though and I drank a teapot full every day.

thumbwitch Fri 25-Jul-08 23:49:48

As I mentioned before, the absorption rate of ferrous sulphate is really low, whereas the absorption rate of other forms of iron such as citrate (and probably gluconate) is much higher as it is in a form the body can metabolise more easily (this is indicative but not necessarily accurate). The Floradix/Floravital preparation might contain less iron but is likely to give you overall more iron because you will absorb more. DO NOT OVERDOSE ON IT!

Although you need iron, of course, you must not take too much of it because it competes for absorption with other minerals, including copper, which is also required for blood manfuacture amongst other things. Overdosing on iron can cause deficiency in copper and be counterproductive.

Do not take too many dark green leafy vegetables as the phytates they contain will inhibit absorption of the iron. Certain pulses, especially soybeans, contain large amounts of phytates as well so if you are vegetarian, keep the soy levels down too.

star6 Sat 26-Jul-08 08:19:48

Thanks Thumbwitch!! That's what I wanted to know. I also try to limit the soy because of something I read about the fertility of the child later on in life... so I try to ignore the cravings for a bowl of soybeans.

LadyOfWaffle Mon 28-Jul-08 12:34:14

Thanks for all this - am I right in thinking Floradix is better than Spatone then? Can I take it in orange juice, as I do with Spatone? I will try and get some today. Glad you said about 'overdosing' on it, I was tempted to double the spatone to 4 a day!

thumbwitch Mon 28-Jul-08 23:00:15

I don't know about Spatone, sorry, but if it's not working for you then try the Floradix instead and see how you get on. Having read the blurb about Spatone, it seems to be excellent, but it is cagey about the actual form of iron in its product. The figures look good but if they aren't working for you then you need to try alternatives.

I can't see a problem with taking the Floradix in orange juice if you want to.

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