Doctors usually take a two-step approach to treating low iron levels:
- Finding and treating the cause.
- Correcting the iron deficiency.
Finding and treating the cause of iron deficiency
If you have iron deficiency, your doctor may investigate to find the cause. This is to check whether a serious disease could potentially be causing your iron deficiency.
If your doctor finds a cause, you will need the right treatment for that cause.
It’s important to see your doctor before taking any iron supplements, to get their advice and make sure you are taking the right type of iron and dose for your needs.
Correcting iron deficiency
If you have iron deficiency, you will need to bring your iron levels back to normal.
This can be done a number of different ways. Depending on your needs, your doctor may recommend that you:
- eat more iron-rich foods
- eat more foods containing vitamin C to help you absorb iron better
- consume less foods and drinks that stop you absorbing iron, like calcium, fibre, tea, coffee and wine
- take iron tablets or liquid iron supplements
- have an intravenous infusion of iron or (in extreme cases) a blood transfusion
If you take iron supplements, you will need to take them for several months and possibly longer. They may make your stools dark, and can also cause constipation, so your doctor may suggest you take a stool-softener to help with this.
Last reviewed: January 2019