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 Post subject: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:45 am 
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In my continued medical journey to find out what is wrong with me, I got some new labs and was just diagnosed with a severe case of this. I'm wondering if this can be part of my exhaustion and inability to lose weight and all my other symptoms that I thought were hypothyroidism. One question: I'm confused about the difference between "regular" anemia and iron deficiency anemia--does anyone have knowledge of this? And does anyone have experience getting over this (and did you feel better when your levels were restored)? I'm supposed to take 325 mg of OTC ferrous sulfate, and I'm also a bit confused about this since that's not what most of the iron supplements are. Would love any stories of your experiences with this. I'm following up with my doctor as well.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:54 am 
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So anemia is just a general term, usually I think of iron deficient anemia when I hear anemia. But you can be anemic in other vitamins as well.

And yes, iron deficiency can lead to exhaustion. I've never been iron deficient myself but I've known a few people who have been. You should feel a lot better once you get to the right levels.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:45 pm 
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Anemia means you lack healthy red blood cells that can carry oxygen around your body. Iron-deficiency is the most common cause of anemia (because you need iron to make hemoglobin, which carries the oxygen). B-12 deficiency is probably the other most well known cause (sometimes called pernicious anemia, especially when caused by a lack of intrinsic factor needed to absorb B-12).

I had severe anemia after giving birth to both of my kids and took the 325 mg ferrous sulfate tabs and then switched to a lower dose for several weeks. You feel a lot better when your levels are right because your body is actually getting the oxygen it needs. I've never heard of it being connected to weight loss, unless you're having trouble losing weight because you have too little energy to move enough. There's no reason you couldn't have hypothyroidism and anemia (unfortunately). Do you have lab results that also confirm hypothyroidism?


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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:55 pm 
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^What Ariann said about anemia vs. IDA.

Oral iron can be helpful for many, but they can also cause unpleasant side effects (mostly digestive stuff), and some people don't absorb oral iron well. If the oral iron isn't working for you, molasses jane, don't be afraid to tell your doctor. There are intravenous formulations that can really help people who aren't responsive to oral iron.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:08 pm 
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The intravenous iron is much improved these days. It is safer, less grueling to administer, doesn't need as many doses, and has far fewer side effects.

I highly recommend it if you are very low. I can't absorb iron from food, so the infusions are my only options. They used to be a nightmare, but the newer formulations are miraculous and the effects last me about a year.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 3:44 pm 
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I've had repeated bouts of iron deficiency anemia due to really heavy periods. I've had good luck getting my iron levels up with prescription supplements (85 mg) but as soon as I stop taking them, or take lower dose OTC supplements, my levels drop again within a month or two.

Even when my iron levels are back up to normal, though, I don't suddenly have more energy, but that's due to a combination of other factors: hypothyroidism (which is also being effectively treated), chronic kidney disease, and vitamin D deficiency, all of which contribute to fatigue. I seem to go on a merry-go-round where I get one factor under control and another one gets out of whack, so I've pretty much accepted that I'll never have the energy of a lot of people around me.

All of this is a way of saying it would be good to determine if other factors could be contributing to your fatigue, because if so, then fixing just one won't automatically lead to renewed energy.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 3:51 pm 
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I'm just going to recommend taking a stool softener with ferrous sulfate and taking it with food and seeing how your body handles it. It's supposed to be the best type if you're deficient but I could not tolerate it at all and had to switch to a different kind (but did manage to get my levels up eventually).

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:31 pm 
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Ferrous sulfate is pretty rough on your stomach and usually causes constipation. I pretty much only tell my patients to take ferrous sulfate because it's the cheapest source of iron and they tend to not have much money. You might consider a liquid ferrous gluconate product like Floravital. Floradix is more well known but it has honey in it. Floravital is the company's other product that is vegan. A serving is maybe a couple teaspoons and it tastes like prune juice. It's not as cheap as what was recommended to you but it's worth it if you can't tolerate the tablets. Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:54 pm 
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Thank you, everyone. This is all very helpful.

To answer your questions/explain a bit more:

Ariann, I had 1/2 my thyroid removed last year because of a large tumor that turned out not to be cancer. Unrelated, I have had raging hypothyroid symptoms for about 3 years, but my labs are steadfastly normal. My naturopath says that one can still by hypo and have normal labs. I tried liothyronine from naturopath for awhile and felt way way better, but my allopathic doctor said this was a terrible idea and it was an amphetamine and Kaiser won't prescribe it or talk to me about it, so I stopped taking it. The naturopath said that my body may be producing the right amount of thyroid hormone, but it may not be getting where it needs to go. But my allopathic doctor and endocrinologist say this is bunk. I feel really stuck between naturopathy and allopathy, and I suppose that in the end, I lean towards the allopathic medicine; I wasn't comfortable being on medicine that my allopathic practitioners wouldn't support.

Over the past few years, I have spent tons of money and even more time trying to figure out why I feel so bad, and I am exhausted and depressed by the whole thing at this point. As time has gone on I have gained more and more weight, gone through multiple sets of clothes, and my constipation and exhaustion have gotten worse and worse, and I'm always freezing.

I'm really frustrated. I have counted calories, tracked food, and this August I really upped my exercise and have been going religiously to 3-4 boot camps classes/week, and picked up jogging again too. More weight gained. More exhaustion. More constipation.

Recently the weight gain and lack of results from the exercise prompted me to get another set of labs. Everything came back normal except for my ferritin, which is strikingly low.

So my endocrinologist referred me for a sleep study to see if I have obstructed sleep apnea, and she also told me to start taking ferrous sulfate. I'm really stressed/anxious about the constipation. Thank you for the softener rec, Strawberry Rock. I take Calm magensium, and will up the dose. I also have a message back to the doctor asking if there is a different formula I can take which might be less bad. Jordan, the intravenous idea is really intriguing--thanks for that tip; I will ask about that. I wonder if it influences the digestive system in a different way? And Mooo I will also look into Floravital--I've never heard of that and appreciate your recommendation.

Honestly, at this point I'm just grasping to find something to make me feel better. I have been to every specialist under the sun, and nothing will work. Many times I've been told to go to mental health since that is clearly my problem (it's not. I've been clinically depressed and this is not that), and I even tried Prozac (which just made my insomnia debilitating, and made me anxious, so I stopped taking it). I feel like I know something is wrong--like my system is sluggish/won't work well, but no one believes me or can find a way to help. I feel like the doctors tell me that if I'd just eat less/move more, it would help. But I've done that. For years. All I want is to fit back into my regular clothes, to be able to poop, to have some energy, and to feel better.

Thank you for listening, and for your suggestions. I really appreciate it!

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:05 am 
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Just be careful and don't take calcium or magnesium with the iron since they'll decrease the iron absorption.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:51 am 
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I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia almost 3 years ago -- My iron had always been on the low side, but after a trip to India where I contracted some other horrible things (I won't go into detail about that here) and was sick for a few months, my iron levels fell to new lows. I had ZERO energy to do anything, and I felt like I was on the verge of passing out and never waking up all the time.

My doctor also prescribed OTC ferrous sulfate, about a two month bout of it if I remember correctly. It was gross, and I did experience some of the side effects people were talking about, but at the same time, I paid a lot of attention to my diet, and making sure I was eating iron rich foods every day. At the end of the two months, I had my blood tested, and my iron levels were back in the normal range, and I was feeling way better. Now at the 3 year mark, my levels are still normal. I haven't taken any sort of iron suppliment since I finished the pills, and I remain aware of eating iron rich foods.

Just to make sure things are staying as they should, I get my blood checked every 6 months.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:58 am 
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molasses jane wrote:
Ariann, I had 1/2 my thyroid removed last year because of a large tumor that turned out not to be cancer. Unrelated, I have had raging hypothyroid symptoms for about 3 years, but my labs are steadfastly normal. My naturopath says that one can still by hypo and have normal labs. I tried liothyronine from naturopath for awhile and felt way way better, but my allopathic doctor said this was a terrible idea and it was an amphetamine and Kaiser won't prescribe it or talk to me about it, so I stopped taking it. The naturopath said that my body may be producing the right amount of thyroid hormone, but it may not be getting where it needs to go. But my allopathic doctor and endocrinologist say this is bunk. I feel really stuck between naturopathy and allopathy, and I suppose that in the end, I lean towards the allopathic medicine; I wasn't comfortable being on medicine that my allopathic practitioners wouldn't support.

I used to see an endocrinologist who prescribed me Cytomel in addition to my Synthroid since I was still feeling tired with supposedly normal thyroid levels. He seemed to think it's possible to need a bit of extra T3. I don't get why a bit of extra T3 is equivalent to taking speed?


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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:25 am 
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I definitely hope you feel better. I've never seen an endocrinologist but I may get there. My D levels were low, which has the same effect (did you get D and B-12 tested?). I've been taking the supplements and walking outside more but I still feel sluggish. I'm hoping the sleep study will help figure out my problem.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:06 am 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
Just be careful and don't take calcium or magnesium with the iron since they'll decrease the iron absorption.


oh no! magensium is what I take already for constipation, and the ferrous sulfate is supposed to make constipation worse.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:06 am 
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jerusalemboheme6 wrote:

My doctor also prescribed OTC ferrous sulfate, about a two month bout of it if I remember correctly. It was gross, and I did experience some of the side effects people were talking about.


What did you experience? I haven't heard much except for constipation.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:08 am 
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helbury wrote:
molasses jane wrote:
Ariann, I had 1/2 my thyroid removed last year because of a large tumor that turned out not to be cancer. Unrelated, I have had raging hypothyroid symptoms for about 3 years, but my labs are steadfastly normal. My naturopath says that one can still by hypo and have normal labs. I tried liothyronine from naturopath for awhile and felt way way better, but my allopathic doctor said this was a terrible idea and it was an amphetamine and Kaiser won't prescribe it or talk to me about it, so I stopped taking it. The naturopath said that my body may be producing the right amount of thyroid hormone, but it may not be getting where it needs to go. But my allopathic doctor and endocrinologist say this is bunk. I feel really stuck between naturopathy and allopathy, and I suppose that in the end, I lean towards the allopathic medicine; I wasn't comfortable being on medicine that my allopathic practitioners wouldn't support.

I used to see an endocrinologist who prescribed me Cytomel in addition to my Synthroid since I was still feeling tired with supposedly normal thyroid levels. He seemed to think it's possible to need a bit of extra T3. I don't get why a bit of extra T3 is equivalent to taking speed?


I don't know either. The allopathic doctors won't even take a full panel of the all the extra tests to look at my thyroid levels. It's so frustrating. I could go rogue and take T3 on my own, but I don't want to go that route.

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:09 am 
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linanil wrote:
I definitely hope you feel better. I've never seen an endocrinologist but I may get there. My D levels were low, which has the same effect (did you get D and B-12 tested?). I've been taking the supplements and walking outside more but I still feel sluggish. I'm hoping the sleep study will help figure out my problem.


Thank you, Linanil. I hope you feel better too! I did have my B12 and D levels checked, and they are spectacularly low too, so I am taking supplements now--it's been a few months, and I don't feel any different yet.

When is your sleep study?

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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:42 pm 
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Sleep apnea can totally make you feel like complete shiitake. That might explain it. And low D and B12 can make things terrible as wel! Hopefully correcting all those deficiencies will help. Are they soing any looking into why you are so anemic? Do they think it's just nutrition or might you have some underlying cause?

I have only negative feelings about naturopathy and it seems crazy to me to see multiple primary care doctors and feel stuck in the middle. Do you have a regular relationship with an endocrinologist? That seems like a more appropriate person to be evaluating the thyroid thing.

You can take magnesium while on iron, just don't take it at the same time of day.


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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:44 pm 
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Sorry, just saw you have an endo. Maybe you need a new one f this one won't even take a full thyroid panel!


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 Post subject: Re: iron deficiency anemia
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:53 am 
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I have always had issues with my iron levels and have had some bouts of very very low levels. My doc gave me iron tablets and they helped a lot. I was lucky in that they didn't mess up my stomach that much (although almost black-green poop was weird!).

I checked what was in the iron tablets as I know there's different types and now I take an iron + vit c supplement that I get from the health food store every day. I'm ok at the moment but occasionally I started to feel exhausted for no reason and go pale as a ghost, so I know that's probably time to ask for another blood test. (That sounds like I'm terribly nonchalant about it - I'm not, but my doctors don't seem overly bothered by it and have never told me to get regular tests, even though I've asked.)

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