How do I treat iron deficiency anaemia?


Give oral iron daily in divided doses: adults 100–210 mg daily, children 2–3 mg/kg up to 7 mg/kg (maximum 210 mg) daily.2,3 Of over 100 oral iron preparations available over the counter, few contain enough iron to treat iron deficiency anaemia.4 

Oral iron is absorbed poorly but more completely if taken an hour before, or two hours, after food.1,3 Dose-related gastrointestinal effects (e.g. abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhoea) and black discolouration of faeces are common.2,3 If these occur, oral iron can be taken with or shortly after food.3 Starting at a low dose and increasing as tolerated (e.g. start with alternate daily dosing then increase to daily or twice daily dosing) or more frequent smaller doses (e.g. use oral liquid) may minimise adverse effects. 

Correcting iron deficiency anaemia takes 2–4 months if an adequate dose is used and the underlying cause is managed.5 Confirm initial response by

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