You know how the doctor always stresses that you should finish a round of antibiotics even if you feel better, yet you still sometimes stop the second your symptoms are gone? That’s pretty much how it goes for iron supplements too. People tend to take them as advised because they feel run down, but as soon as they start to feel like themselves again, they might push their iron supplement to the back of the medicine cabinet.
So, if you are wondering for how long you should take your iron supplement or are considering going off of it, this article is for you!
For starters, your doctor knows your situation best. Because of this, he/she will advise how often and for how long you should take your iron supplement. That’s the closest you can get to a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how long you need to be on iron for. You doctor’s advice will typically depend on a few factors, such as:
- The severity of your iron deficiency anemia;
- The cause of your anemia;
- How well your body absorbs iron;
- How diligent you’ve been in taking your iron pills.
These things will all help your doctor determine how much iron you need to take and for how long.
Just Because You’re Feeling Fine…
People are often quick to think that if they’re feeling better, they are actually better. While it is true that oral iron supplements can take effect rather quickly, just because you feel better doesn’t mean that your iron level or iron stores are back to normal.
Here’s an idea of how your iron supplement should work, assuming there are no exceptional underlying medical conditions, based on the Anemia Guidelines for Family Medicine (2014):
- Therapeutic doses of iron should increase hemoglobin by about 10 g/L each week;
- A hemoglobin response of less than 20 g/L after 3 weeks warrants further evaluation;
- After the iron deficiency anemia is corrected, iron supplementation should be continued for 3 months in order to replenish iron stores;
- Depending on your situation, your doctor may need to monitor your hemoglobin and red blood cell levels for an additional 3 to 6 months.
So there you have it! Do as your doctor says and continue taking your iron diligently for as long as you are told. It’s the only way to ensure that you get the most from an oral iron supplement and get your iron back to where it needs to be for optimal health.
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