Iron tablets not working except side effects!

(15 Posts)
RandomlyChosenName Mon 06-Jan-20 09:08:10

My iron levels were measured by the doctor and were very low, but I am not anaemia. I was prescribed Ferrous Fumarate tablets to take 3 times a day. I have built up to this (1 week on 1, 1 week on 2) and since the end of last week have been taking 3 a day.

I am still oh so tired, even after a decent nights sleep. And I can’t breath properly and my chest hurts and my heart is pounding. So the tablets don’t seem to be doing anything (yet...?)

But I am suffering from side effects from the tablets- alternating constipation and diarrhoea. This hasn’t been going on the whole time-I had it at first and then it went away, but now it’s back and worse than ever. I just feel so rubbish and wiped out.

And the doctor doesn’t know why my iron is so low- my periods are normal. I have had some tests to rule things out, but now they want to do a stool sample. With my bowels as they are I have no idea how that will happen.

I just don’t know what to do sad

(Sorry, this is more of a moaning thread than a question!)

OP’s posts: |
Iggly Mon 06-Jan-20 09:09:59

I would try a different iron supplement - spatone was the best thing for me after being severely anemic post birth and miscarriage. Iron tablets made me feel dreadful.

Also worth trying a vitamin b supplement and did they look at your vit D levels?

SuperLoudPoppingAction Mon 06-Jan-20 09:10:52

Some people just tend to have low iron.

I like floradix and can't seem to absorb iron from tablets.

Also I'm sure there is a b vitamin I used to take to try and get my iron up. I will google

SuperLoudPoppingAction Mon 06-Jan-20 09:11:56


Didiusfalco Mon 06-Jan-20 09:12:31

You need vitamin C to absorb iron. Get a slow release vitamin C tablet from boots to take along the iron tablets.

Seeline Mon 06-Jan-20 09:13:12

It took about 4 months on FF for me to start feeling normal. I could only manage 2 a day - they certainly didn't give me constipation!

The liquid iron tonics give very low levels of iron compared to the tablets. I think it could take 6 months or more on that.

RandomlyChosenName Mon 06-Jan-20 09:19:55

They checked vitamin B12 levels and they were fine. What would fit D show up as on a blood test?

I have been taking the tablets with a glass of orange juice for the vitamin C.

I really want to get the iron levels up so I feel better, so I am reluctant to go onto less strong liquid or reduce the tablets again. I think I could cope with the side effects if I wasn’t still suffering from the effects of low iron as well.

Just doesn’t seem fair.

OP’s posts: |


RandomlyChosenName Mon 06-Jan-20 09:20:47

Also, I was only given 84 tablets, so I haven’t got enough for 4 months! Only the next 2.5 weeks.

OP’s posts: |
IlsSortLaPlupartAuNuitMostly Mon 06-Jan-20 09:36:32

My GP said that a satsuma or similar was a more reliable source of vitamin C than juice for this purpose. But yes, some gentler iron would be appropriate.

SirTobyBelch Mon 06-Jan-20 11:25:11

How do you know they aren't working? Have you had a recent haemoglobin measurement? It does take several weeks to replenish depleted haemoglobin & ferritin if they are very low.

I don't really understand what you mean by "My iron levels were measured by the doctor and were very low, but I am not [anaemic]." When you say "iron levels" do you mean haemoglobin (serum iron measurements are not performed routinely), and when you say "very low" do you mean below the normal range (i.e. anaemic)?

Over-the counter iron supplements do not contain anywhere near enough iron to bring up your haemoglobin and ferritin levels if you are anaemic.

RandomlyChosenName Mon 06-Jan-20 11:56:44

I don’t know that they are not working regarding my iron levels as they haven’t been rechecked, but it doesn’t feel like they’re working because I am still exhausted etc. So in a way I hope they’re not working as my symptoms aren’t getting better.

My serum ferritin Level was 8, but my haemoglobin levels were normal - 122. Does that explain things?

OP’s posts: |
vickibee Mon 06-Jan-20 12:00:42

I am in a similar situation to you and I had the poo test. They give you a test tube thing with a small stick attached, they need only a tiny sample. They are ruling out a bleed from the bowel. I found it straight forward.
The iron tablets are grim and turn your motions black and make me constipated. Like you the Gp can not find a reason. I am menopausal and don't even have periods

palomapear Mon 06-Jan-20 12:03:55

I thought ferrous sulphate tablets were easier to absorb?
You can buy them over the counter for a few pounds

SirTobyBelch Mon 06-Jan-20 12:42:37

If your serum ferritin is very low (should be well above 15 µg/L) and haemoglobin right at the bottom of the normal range (121-151 g/L) it suggests that you've been using up your ferritin stores for a while and now have insufficient left to provide iron for new haemoglobin.

There could be lots of reasons why you're so short of iron. Possibly blood loss (which is what you're being tested for) but possibly lack of dietary intake (do you eat meat? if not, do you eat other iron-containing foods?) or some condition causing destruction of red cells. Have you had a blood film performed? Have you noticed any yellowing of your complexion? Are you on any medication (some drugs can cause haemolytic anaemia as a side-effect)?

I think you should ask your GP to get your haemoglobin rechecked to see whether it's going in the right direction, although she/he will probably say that it's fairly common not to feel any benefit for about 4 weeks after starting to take the iron supplement.

@palomapear - Ferrous fumarate is usually only prescribed to patients who can't tolerate the side-effects of ferrous sulfate. Probably the OP's GP has found many patients complain of side-effects with ferrous sulfate and therefore starts with ferrous fumarate (which is slightly more expensive). In fact, there's very little difference either in the absorption of iron from the two salts or the frequency/severity of gastrointestinal side-effects.

Iggly Mon 06-Jan-20 14:28:38

I found liquid iron miles better for upping my iron levels even if there’s less iron in it. Easier for my body to absorb whereas iron tablets - I was just passing loads back out as evidenced by my dark poos!!

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