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GP says my iron levels are 6! I have to take a supplement - any advice please?

(75 Posts)
violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 21:59:33

I had some blood tests at the GPs because my nails are very broken and ridged, suddenly so. She called me with the results today and said my iron levels are 6 which is very low apparently and also my vitamin D levels are very low.

She's given me a Vitamin D supplement to take and I have to take iron tablets but I noticed that the side effects are severe nausea and I have a terrible fear of nausea / vomiting.

Has anyone got any experience of taking these supplements or any good tips I can try?

Should I be really worried to have such a low iron level. Could it be fatal?

Jeepers Thu 13-May-10 22:02:00

Do you mean your haemoglobin level is 6?

violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 22:04:02

I don't know. She just said I had an iron level of 6.

Pannacotta Thu 13-May-10 22:05:01

Try Floradix, I was very anaemic but taking this every days for a few months has helped loads and I feel human again.
You can get it from Holland & Barratt and most health food shops.
It is much easier to absorb than iron tablets.
Re the Vit D your best bet it to get some sunshine on your face whenever you can.

violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 22:06:23

And the Floradix doesn't give you the stomach side effects? But is as powerful as the supplement the GP gives you?

I feel very worried about it but I don't really understand what it means. Is it a sign that something else is wrong with me?

violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 22:13:00

More advice needed please.

violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 22:26:58

Help?

zen1 Thu 13-May-10 22:30:49

I was prescibed quite a high dose of ferrous sulphate when I was anaemic (think my haemoglobin was 6.5) and I have to say it really affected my stomach, so after doing some research I asked them to switch to ferrous fumerate which I believe is gentler on the stomach and had no side effects at all. Just make sure you don't take iron tablets on an emply stomach.

moaningminniewhingesagain Thu 13-May-10 22:32:45

The GP seems to be treating you for low iron stores, floradix from holland and barrett or Spatone from Boots will help but usually not as quickly as prescribed iron tablets.

If ferrous sulphate do cause you unbearable side effects - usually black poo - (normal when on iron), constipation or loose stools. They can prescribe other iron tablets which are a little kinder to your digestive system.

But - in your position I would ask them to investigate why you are so anaemic. Do you have shocking heavy periods? Or some other cause of the anaemia?

moaningminniewhingesagain Thu 13-May-10 22:33:50

Oh and eat lots of iron rich foods, avoid tea at mealtimes, have Vit C with meals eg orange juice, to help you absorb the iron in your food.

kalo12 Thu 13-May-10 22:33:52

a couple of dried apricots a day

jellybeans Thu 13-May-10 22:36:55

It could be your ferratin levels (iron stores) or HB level of iron in blood, mine was 4 but they didn't panic as it was chronic and can be rapidly reversed. Iron tablets should work quickly and don't always make you feel sick but they can. You would need to drink alot of Spatone to equal the Ferrous sulphate amounts.

You may need to push for tests to find out why you are anaemic otherwise you will end up anaemic again after stopping the iron. Often it is through heavy periods or simelar but it's best to check why your levels are low as rarel it can be a sign of coeliac disease or something else.

ThatVikRinA22 Thu 13-May-10 22:37:37

im taking ferrous fumerate, no problems or side effects at all. i just seem to have a bit more get up and go!

seashore Thu 13-May-10 22:39:42

With iron levels that low your going to need something much stronger than Floradix, use whatever your gp gave you, to avoid side effects drink lots of water, eat kiwi with the skin, lots of fruit and veg. 6 is really low you must be exhausted.

violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 22:43:38

Thank you everyone. I have no idea why my iron is so low except that I am a vegetarian but so is my mum and brother and they've never had any problems. I have a good diet generally.

I wonder why my GP didn't prescribe me Ferrous Fumerate from the outset? What is the point of prescribing something that might well upset your stomach if there's something else that won't?

Does low iron stores automatically mean anaemia? I don't actually feel particularly low in energy although I do feel crushingly tired at times. I get a racing heart quite a lot now, I wonder if that's connected?

seashore Thu 13-May-10 22:47:41

It is connected. I think your iron is meant to be at about 14 or so, least that's what a doctor said to me when pregnant I was down at 11 and he wasn't happy. I used to be vegetarian and I had really long periods which was because I was losing too much iron. By the way Spatone has a very low dose of iron in it.

UnseenAcademicalMum Thu 13-May-10 22:48:33

As others have said, ferrous fumerate is gentler on the stomach than ferrous sulphate (though it does still have some side effects). However, to help avoid side-effects you can wean yourself up to the full dose prescribed over a couple of weeks by i.e. if you have been prescribed 3 tablets of ferrous sulphate per day (not unusual for someone with your iron level), start off with just one tablet per day, take that for a few days, then introduce a second tablet per day, do that for a few days and finally introduce the third.

Take with a glass of orange juice, not tea or anything milky as this will reduce the absorption.

moaningminniewhingesagain Thu 13-May-10 22:48:48

Quite likely to be related. Anaemia just describes the fact your iron is low, but it is a symptom rather than an illness IYKWIM.

here is some info from a reliable source.

NumptyMum Thu 13-May-10 22:49:04

I'm pregnant and am borderline anaemic at 10.5; am taking Floradix as I think it causes less constipation (which can be a consequence of taking Iron tablets, and which is worse in pregnancy anyway). It says it should be taken before meals, which echoes what Zen1 says. Looking at the bottle, Floradix contains ferrous gluconate - so not sure if better, worse or no different to ferrous sulphate or ferrous fumerate. You take 10ml twice daily, which gives 108% RDA iron.

Also you could try increasing your intake of the following, which are all sources of iron:
Beans and pulses
Spinach, cabbage
Wheatgerm and wholegrains
Prunes, dates, dried apricots
(so beans on wholemeal toast should help!).
And iron is best absorbed with vitamin C (included in Floradix).

Re vitamin D, I'm not sure if sunlight would be enough, esp if you are working (and like me don't venture out of the office during lunch). Prob better to take supplement as I think it's only in fortified foods such as cereal or margarine.

stleger Thu 13-May-10 22:51:26

I am taking ferrum tablets, as iron sulphate made me throw up. (I think sulphate is cheaper, but I'm not in UK!) Avoid milk after taking a tablet. I'm vegetarian, my circulating iron is nearly OK, my store is low.

emsyj Thu 13-May-10 22:51:55

If you do take the iron tablets, you can take a couple of teaspoons of lactulose every day too to keep things, um, moving. I'm on iron at the moment due to pregnancy related mild anaemia but the Floradix is too disgusting for me to stomach so I have reverted to the iron tablets and they will constipate you to hell if you aren't careful. They are just about bearable if you take lactulose at the same time. The midwife says it does no harm to take lactulose on an ongoing basis and it shouldn't become less effective.

violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 23:00:16

If I didn't take the iron tablets would my iron levels get lower and lower or be likely to stay around this level?

I really can't face feeling nauseous, it's a nightmare to me. Does the nausea just last while the tablet is in your stomach or does it carry on all day? And is it accumulative or does it get better after you take it for a while?

violetbloom Thu 13-May-10 23:02:14

The GP didn't seem particularly all that concerned. She was very blase about it all.

alypaly Thu 13-May-10 23:04:35

in my experience if your iron HGb was 6 you would be fainting and finding it difficult to breathe. My best frind had to have a transfusion when hers went down to 8 as she felt so unwell. Like others have said ,i think you would need something stronger than floradix with iron levels that low.

You can get nausea with low iron levels too

bellabelly Thu 13-May-10 23:10:37

I was diagnosed as anaemic at the start of tis pregnancy - MW says my ferritin level is 6 so I've been taking 2 or 3 ferous sulphate tablets per day. I was expecting some horrible side effects but actually all that's happened is my poo has gone darker. After about a week on the tablets I already felt a lt better - more energy and stopped feeling breathless and heart racing all the time. Would def recommend at least givng them a try.

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