Friday, June 15, 2007

Iron Deficient Anemia

I went to the local Red Cross today to give blood, but they wouldn't take any. My Hct was too low. Your Hb must be 12.5 or above, the Hct must be 38% or above.  So now I must work on getting it up. Mine is simply iron deficient anemia (giving blood and not enough iron in my diet). This can sometimes be a problem postoperatively too. We don't give blood to surgery patients as readily as when I was a medical student. Now we won't treat with transfusion post-surgery unless the patient is still bleeding, the Hct is less than 29%, or the patient is symptomatic (short of breath, weak, etc).
Now that I have become deficient in iron to the point that I have developed anemia, increased intake of iron-rich foods is beneficial, but usually isn't enough to correct the problem. I will need iron supplementation to build back my iron reserves and still meet my body's daily iron requirements. For mild iron deficiency anemia, a daily multivitamin containing iron will often be enough. But typically, doctors recommend iron tablets — such as prescription ferrous sulfate tablets or an over-the-counter supplement. These oral iron supplements are usually best absorbed in an empty stomach. However, because iron can irritate your stomach, you may need to take the supplements with food. Iron absorption is increased when taken with vitamin C (orange juice).

Iron deficiency anemia can be prevented by eating foods rich in iron, as part of a balanced diet. Eating plenty of iron-containing foods is particularly important for people who have higher iron requirements, such as children and menstruating or pregnant women or regular blood donators. Foods rich in iron include red meat, seafood, poultry and eggs. Meat sources of iron are easily absorbed by your body. Plant-based foods also are good sources of iron, although they're less easily absorbed. Among the best are iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas. Beans and peas, dark green leafy vegetables — such as spinach — and raisins, nuts, and seeds also contain iron. You can enhance your body's absorption of iron by drinking citrus juice when you eat an iron-containing food. Vitamin C in citrus juices, like orange juice, helps your body better absorb dietary iron from animals and plants.
  • Maybe I'll have a nice spinach salad with blueberries & almonds, along with my iron supplement. Then I'll try to give blood again in a few months (give my body some time to build back up).


Amanda said...

I had a bout of anemia when expecting one of my kids, and was told to take an iron supplement by Floradix. It's a liquid supplement and tastes a bit like prune juice with metal filings. Foul as it was, it did the trick by my next appointment (one or two weeks from the discovery of the anemia).

Just sharing, etc. You're the doc, so I strongly suspect you have more than a vague clue how to go about hiking your iron back up :)

rlbates said...

Thank you Amanda. I'll take a look into Floradix.

Amanda said...

The L&D nurses and OBs I was talking with on some boards liked Floradix, when I mentioned I was taking it. That was a definite plus for me, outside the recommendation I already received.

I need to blogroll you. I don't quilt, but I do knit. We crafty types need to network!

Still working on a knitted afghan for a birthday that was in February. I'm slow, LOL.