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IRON SUPPLEMENTS - a patient's guide


Iron supplements are used to treat iron deficiencies. This article profiles the various medications and how they should be used.


Ferrous sulphate: Ferro-Gradumet

Ferrous gluconate: Fergon elixer

Iron polymaltose: Ferrum H inj.

USE: Iron deficiency

Iron supplements are used for the treatment and prevention of iron deficiency anaemia. Iron is required for the production of haemoglobin, which facilitates oxygen to be supplied to our body tissues.

Dietary factors, bowel disease, increased requirements (growth, pregnancy) and blood loss are the most likely reasons to develop iron deficiency. Women are at greater risk than men.

It is important that an accurate diagnosis of the reason for iron deficiency is made before starting treatment.


  • Haemochromatosis (iron overload)
  • Excessive blood loss
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (avoid oral iron)

Side effects:

Occasional: stomach upset, altered bowel habit (constipation or diarrhoea), and discoloured stools.


Certain antibiotics (tetracyclines, quinolones), penicillamine, antacids and zinc all reduce absorption of iron. However, alcohol increases the absorption of iron.

Patient information:

  • Follow the instructions on the label of this medicine
  • Do not stop taking this medicine unless directed
  • This medicine is best taken before food although can be taken after (reduce stomach upset)
  • Tablet: swallow whole, not crushed or chewed
  • Liquid: take with a large glass of water (keep out of reach of children)
  • Injection: use Z-track method (discuss with doctor)
  • This medicine may discolour yours stools (dark brown)
  • Avoid taking antacids (within 4 hours of taking this medicine) due to impaired iron absorption
  • Consult your doctor or seek medical attention if side effects are severe (e.g. skin rash) or ongoing (altered bowel habit).

See also:

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