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Iron levels less than 5 help please!!

54 replies

whatdodos · 13/09/2022 18:07

Shamelessly placing this here for traffic sorry 😥 I had a blood test last week and had a phone call back today to say my iron levels were so low they weren't able to measure them. This isn't a surprise I've had all the symptoms, so much so I haven't been able to even drive myself anywhere recently because I just can't concentrate enough and everything is dizzy/fuzzy.

With iron supplements this will take a few months to sort out so my question is in the meantime what can I do to help this and to make myself feel better? I'm stopping tea and coffee and trying to eat a bit more red meat (which I hate) and green veggies. Any other advice please?? I feel miserable at the moment I'm grouchy, exhausted, too drained to do most things other than work and constant headaches and dizziness. Any advice on the energy front would be so appreciated xx

OP posts:
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whatdodos · 13/09/2022 18:47

@TwilightDreams I probably could I may wait the 6 weeks then try that? I work at the hospital my go practice is based so don't want to be too awkward or fussy (work in a different department).

@Thurlow thanks for the advice I'm definitely going to try the vitamin C! I don't think it's period related, they aren't particularly heavy or light kist average I think? I ALWAYS get the constipation but I'm scared with lactose or something it may go the other way and may end up I'm a nightmare scenario 🤣 I'm sorry to hear you went through it too and are feeling slightly better.

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forgotoldusername · 13/09/2022 19:01

@whatdodos there are places in London where you can have a private iron transfusion. I have very high iron (I'm a massive carnivore) but my father didn't so I looked into it (eventually the NHS did it but I was just preparing for a denial). It was about £600 a few years ago I wouldn't know now

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JaneLC · 13/09/2022 21:46

try the liquid supplements they are easier on the stomach/digestion.

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Quincythequince · 13/09/2022 21:56

whatdodos · 13/09/2022 18:07

Shamelessly placing this here for traffic sorry 😥 I had a blood test last week and had a phone call back today to say my iron levels were so low they weren't able to measure them. This isn't a surprise I've had all the symptoms, so much so I haven't been able to even drive myself anywhere recently because I just can't concentrate enough and everything is dizzy/fuzzy.

With iron supplements this will take a few months to sort out so my question is in the meantime what can I do to help this and to make myself feel better? I'm stopping tea and coffee and trying to eat a bit more red meat (which I hate) and green veggies. Any other advice please?? I feel miserable at the moment I'm grouchy, exhausted, too drained to do most things other than work and constant headaches and dizziness. Any advice on the energy front would be so appreciated xx

OP, do not post on here asking for medical advice like this.

You need a referral if your iron is that low because is it is, they will be needing to investigate why and give you various infusions.

Have you been referred?

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ladygindiva · 13/09/2022 22:09

Spatone in orange juice daily , black pudding and dark chocolate ( the highest possible cocoa content ) work for me

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roundandroundthegarden1 · 13/09/2022 22:15

Beetroot juice.

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greenhousegal · 13/09/2022 22:16

I had haemoglobin of 6.5. Was scheduled to have four units of blood transfused within a week, followed very shortly afterwards by an iron infusion (ferrinject). I had a GI bleed. Worrying time, but touch wood all good now.

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IGiveUpalready · 13/09/2022 22:18

You need proper medical advice - without question.
As a non celiac I would advise a breakfast with fortified iron (bran flakes, cocoa pops, what ever has that iron and you can tolerate.
Lots of iron rich foods, such as Dried apricots, Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
A well woman style vitamin C drink, Ovaltine (or Hot choc Ovaltine) and weirdly I had those meal replacement meals (as a drink occasionally - not a replacement)

Its slow, but its a start whilst your actual treatment starts. I had to have a 4pint blood transfusion when my iron levels were at 5 - but that's the old school terminology - I was crawling and barely awake.
You really need to advocate for yourself and possibly change doctor!

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picklemewalnuts · 13/09/2022 22:19

Iron absorbs best with vit C

Tea and milk reduce absorption.

Eat iron rich foods with vit c And without milk.

There are some surprising ones-
Broccoli
Apricot
Eggs
Weetabix

(I think! It's been a while)

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Aroundthebend · 13/09/2022 22:42

You really need to keep asking for an investigation as to WHY your levels are so low, you should have been offered an iron transfusion but it is a postcode lottery as to what number your level is and whether your authority will do them at your level (madness as surely a very low level in Worcestershire has the same heath concerns as a very low level in Hampshire!)
I had to really fight for investigations as they kept saying it was due to periods and poor diet, even though I pointed out I hadn’t had a period for 10 years due to the coil! Eventually, I was referred to a consultant after two years of medication and a decreasing iron level and immediately offered a iron transfusion and several investigations.

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TheConicalFlask · 13/09/2022 22:49

You need to tell them you want a faecal calprotectin test to check for inflammation of the bowel, a FIT test to look for blood in stool samples. Also a stool sample to send to microbiology to rule out parasitic infection. Insist on these tests.

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felulageller · 13/09/2022 22:55

You are what you eat.

The best solution for this is to find ways to like red meat.

Is it all red meat? Is it the taste or texture?

Find ways to eat 6oz of meat in different forms each day eg 2 bacon rashers in a roll for breakfast, a roast beef sandwich for lunch and lamb chops for dinner.

Your iron levels will improve in weeks.

Supplements aren't a substitute.

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sleepfortheweek · 13/09/2022 23:32

greenhousegal · 13/09/2022 22:16

I had haemoglobin of 6.5. Was scheduled to have four units of blood transfused within a week, followed very shortly afterwards by an iron infusion (ferrinject). I had a GI bleed. Worrying time, but touch wood all good now.

Sounds similar to me, they eventually found I had a meckels diverticulum which they removed surgically but only after two very bad bleeds which saw my Hb drop to 4.1. I had to get blood transfusions on two separate occasions. I'll never forget how good I felt afterwards.

Hope you get sorted OP, it's a horrible feeling.

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medianewbie · 14/09/2022 11:15

Watching

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whatdodos · 14/09/2022 19:26

Thank you again for all the advice everyone especially r.e diet and to whoever mentioned the Facebook group I've joined now and you may see a question about hot drinks that I posted 😁

As for the red meat I don't think I could physically eat that much in one day. I could have one meat sandwich or a meal with some red meat in but I would just get so so full up.

OP posts:
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CoverYourselfInChocolateGlory · 14/09/2022 19:30

I had this a couple of years ago OP - iron levels way down - 4. something. Weakness, fatigue, breathlessness, dizzy spells, palpitations and vertigo. Felt terrible. Take vitamin C with the iron and get a high dose supplement, plus diet changes. It actually only took 2-3 weeks to make a difference for me. One day I just suddenly felt better.

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Farmerazza · 14/09/2022 19:34

Eat lots of Liver and speak to your GP - Don't listen to people online for medical advice. Iron overdose is a thing. Speak to a qualified healthcare professional.

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NarNooNarNoo · 14/09/2022 19:57

I recently had an iron infusion. My levels are always low and I’ve been on ferrous fumarate long term over many years - unfortunately it gives me terrible constipation (that’s when you know it’s working!) try liquid iron as well which is gentler. And with OJ as others mention.

My levels just keep dropping so I can’t stop supplements. I know it’s at its worst when I start craving chewing sponges (pica) and my legs lose all their strength!

I have a history of ibd (ulcerative colitis) which I had jpouch surgery for so just don’t absorb it.

I would absolutely be pushing for further investigation. I’ve had all the tests @TheConicalFlask mentions recently as well but I do also have other bowel related symptoms - so they are always checking for inflammation..
good luck!

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Lavendersummer · 14/09/2022 20:14

Can you pay for an iron infusion. Your iron is so low that supplementing is really going to take too long.
Call them and push for an infusion. It’s not right to fobb you off with iron tablets when your iron levels are so low.
this also needs to be investigated.
Im sorry but you need to be awkward and fussy. This is your health.
If your periods are not heavy and you and young then this needs to be investigated further.
your health is important and more investigation and help is clearly needed.

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Flyingbymypants · 14/09/2022 20:15

cks.nice.org.uk/topics/anaemia-iron-deficiency/diagnosis/confirmed-deficiency/

Here are the NICE guidelines for the investigation and treatment for iron deficiency. There is no 'one size fits all' - investigations will depend on your age/se×/symptoms. In the premenopausal woman - the most common reason for iron deficiency is blood loss from menstruation. This can lead to an iron level of less than 5. A very low level doesn't necessarily mean there is a sinister cause. Please do see your GP again to discuss further tests and treatment. If your iron level doesn't come up with oral iron supplements you may need an infusion.

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Lavendersummer · 14/09/2022 20:17

Also slightly ranty but this is such pitifully bad medical care. It is disgusting that someone with such a low iron level is not being offered more by their doctors and further investigating.
Really it’s enraging

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Titsflyingsouth · 14/09/2022 20:17

Are they not giving you a transfusion with levels of 5?? Fucks sake, at their lowest, my levels were 21 and I have having constant chest pains and palpitations and barely able to move! Personally I would be tempted to get a second opinion, Op.

The liquid supplement they are talking about is Spatone. It's very gentle but on its own won't do enough to get your levels up. So you need to be on ferrous tablets too.

Get plenty of vitamin c as this helps iron absorption. Taking it at the same time as iron helps. (Avoid having dairy within an hour of iron and vit c as that can have the opposite effect and block absorption,)

The meaty forms of iron tend to be the ones that absorb the quickest. So try to get some, however hard.

Also almonds are good - so maybe snack on those little and often for an extra boost.

Lots of protein - eggs etc will help your hair growth if it's flagging.

Good luck

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definitelynotlistening · 14/09/2022 20:33

I often suffer low iron and a year or two ago was very low like you. I felt dreadful. The doctor didn't offer a prescription. She said it is easier to ask a pharmacy for a high dose of iron tablets for someone 'very anaemic'. I had to take 3 per day. I kept it up for months and the levels raised very slowly until she called me so pleased I was only 'iron deficient' and no longer anaemic. That took about 9 months and a few repeat tests.
I decided to stop taking three a day after a month or so, and swapped to one a day and 2 doses of an iron syrup I got from poundstretcher or somewhere like that. I took it with orange juice. I gave up caffeine. I ate a lot of iron rich food.
Good luck.

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FallSky · 14/09/2022 20:38

When I had very low iron levels I was sent to hospital immediately for a blood transfusion. Surely if they're so low they can't measure them you're literally at risk of dying?

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KennAdams · 14/09/2022 20:40

I feel dreadful with levels of 9.5 so God knows how you feel OP!

Hope you get sorted soon!

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