Fast Five Quiz: Iron Deficiency Anemia Management

James L. Harper, MD


August 06, 2021

Figure 1. Iron deficiency anemia.

Parenteral iron should be reserved for patients who are unable to absorb oral iron or who have persistent anemia despite oral iron replacement therapy because it is expensive and confers greater morbidity than oral iron.

Ferrous sulfate is the most common treatment for patients with iron deficiency anemia. Tablets contain 50-60 mg of iron salt, although other ferrous salts with a smaller dose of iron (25-50 mg) may cause less intestinal discomfort.

Carbonyl iron is used as a substitute for ferrous sulfate. It is thought to confer less gastrointestinal toxicity, and it is often used in patients with peptic ulcers and gastritis, or as an alternative when ferrous salts produce intestinal symptoms.

Parenteral use of iron-carbohydrate complexes (iron-dextran) has caused anaphylactic reactions; thus, it should only be used for patients with an established diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia whose condition persists even with oral therapy.

Learn more about iron deficiency anemia medication.


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