If you suspect that you may be iron deficient, get yourself to the doctor for proper diagnosis! Knowing what questions to ask, about everything from testing to supplementing your iron, can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms so that you can start feeling like yourself again.
Here are some discussion points to bring up with your doctor:
1. Your symptoms
Give your doctor a clear rundown of the symptoms you’re experiencing. The Iron Deficiency & Iron Deficiency Anemia Symptoms Checker is a helpful resource to identify your symptoms and also consider whether or not you have any of the predisposing factors for iron deficiency. Fill out the Symptoms Checker then take it to your doctor to discuss.
2. The Right Blood Tests
When iron deficiency is suspected, doctors will often perform a Complete Blood Count (CBC). Unfortunately, this isn’t always enough to diagnose iron deficiency if you are still in the early stages, as your results may come back as normal. Along with a CBC, your tests should include what’s called an “iron panel” (various tests). Don’t feel bad requesting the additional testing even if your CBC comes back in the normal ranges – remember that this is your health!
If you are found to have predisposing factors that could lead to iron deficiency or are found to be deficient in iron, discuss ongoing monitoring of your condition with your doctor. Find out what tests you will need on a regular basis and whom you will need to see for it. Your doctor may refer you to a hematologist (blood specialist), or you could always ask for a referral if you feel you should see one.
If you are diagnosed with iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia, your doctor will likely recommend an oral iron supplement. To ensure that you get one that best suits your needs ask your doctor or pharmacist about:
- The side effects you can expect with each type, or class, of iron supplement (for example, some are more likely to cause loose stool patterns than others and, though not ideal, diarrhea is not as bad for someone who is often constipated as it may be for someone who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome);
- The amount of elemental iron available in each tablet/capsule (you may require more or less depending on your specific needs);
- The dosing regimen (find a convenient dosing schedule that you can stick to);
Weigh the pros and cons of each – your doctor or pharmacist should help you choose the right iron supplement for your needs.
If you suspect that you might be iron deficient, don’t wait for a regularly scheduled appointment with your doctor; be proactive and make an appointment to discuss your symptoms. Prior to your appointment, take some time to write down any other questions or concerns that you may have and bring the list with you so that you don’t forget – something we all often do at our doctor’s visits!
Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs