I’ve always struggled with iron deficiency, and tried to make a positive effort to start taking iron supplements after getting tested at a 10.7 Hemoglobin level last summer. Diagnostic Iron Deficiency Anemia, for a simple definition, is defined as when hemoglobin (women) is below 12.0, and hematocrit is below 35.9. In comparison, my hemoglobin is now at 8.8, and hematocrit is at 28.8. 😦 My previous lowest, before this was 9.8 when I was in high school.
Treatment and Iron Supplement Side Effects:
It will take 8+ weeks to recover, assuming I am diligent with the supplements. The effects of being anemic, as well as the side effects of iron supplements are unpleasant. My past anemic experience is guiding my iron supplement dosage, along with google. My Kaiser doctor is pretty busy these days for guidance.
- I’m taking 120mg of elemental iron a day, in two doses, one in the morning, one before bed. You should take it on an empty stomach if possible, although for me it is a bit painful. But I love coffee and cereal, and calcium from the milk inhibits iron absorption rates, as do compounds called polyphenols in coffee and tea, (tea is worse than coffee). So I get up early, take my iron, then eat breakfast later. Iron in delayed release capsules may be easier on the stomach, but is not as effective.
- It gives me a very strong metallic taste. Most strongly after I take it, but it’s essentially an all day, long-lasting yummy taste. I’m not sure I would have described it as metallic before being prompted in my readings, but it is a very noticeable and present taste.
There are different types of anemia out there, and it is important to diagnose the cause, so you can properly treat it. Looking at my blood tests, I have a combination of low hemoglobin, low hematocrit levels, and low iron, and normal iron binding capacity (TIBC) – which helps determine it is iron deficiency anemia as opposed to b12 deficiency or even chronic diseases that are causing it. This article describes everything you ever wanted to know about iron.
- Iron deficiency in general causes me to have intense ice chewing cravings. Also to smell gasoline. I can usually tell when I’m starting to get low on iron by my ice cravings. It gets so strong that my mouth waters just thinking about it.
- Trouble breathing: It started to get pretty bad a few months ago. At first I just thought I was out of shape because I had been sick with the flu for weeks, and then traveling, I had not had a consistent workout schedule. But I started struggling in my workouts.. a lot. Even after a few minutes of exercise, trying to catch my breath. My muscles, especially legs just felt achy. The things started to scare me more were feeling dizzy while working out, and a few times feeling like I might faint. I started getting bloody noses on a regularly basis, which is extremely abnormal for me. I’m not entirely sure if this is a direct cause of anemia, but that was the prompt that made me get my blood test.
- Tired all the time: Before in high school when I had a 9.8 Hemoglobin level, the symptoms were slightly different. At that time, I would get really tired and sleep a lot. I don’t actually feel tired more than normal, which is one of the reasons I had over looked it this time for so long. Previously, I had exercise induced asthma, which was a huge pain in the ass, and possibly hasn’t surfaced this time because I’m not training in competition track workouts.