Liquid formulations beat iron side effects

Patients can avoid the unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects of iron supplements by taking iron in liquid form, a review suggests.

The availability of ferrous sulfate as a liquid allows it to be used in small, divided doses to reduce side effects, such as constipation and nausea, that reduce adherence, say the authors of a review in Australian Prescriber.

Drs Jonathan Baird-Gunning and Jonathan Bromley, clinicians at Canberra Hospital, say taking iron tablets or capsules is often a problem for people who have to take supplements for 3-6 months to treat iron deficiency anaemia.

“Poor adherence is a common cause for failure to respond to oral iron therapy … Liquid iron replacement can be trialled in patients intolerant of iron tablets," their review notes.

"It can be taken in divided daily doses reducing gastrointestinal adverse effects. However, it can discolour teeth.