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What are the side effects of taking iron supplements?

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Quick Answer

Side effects of iron supplements include chest pain, chills, dizziness, fainting and a fast heartbeat, according to Mayo Clinic. Patients who experience these side effects should seek medical attention. Some patients experience leg cramps and constipation when taking iron supplements; medical attention is not generally necessary for these symptoms.

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Full Answer

Many side effects of iron supplements, including nausea, leg cramps, diarrhea and constipation, tend to go away as the patient's body adapts to the supplement, explains Mayo Clinic. Patients who are extremely bothered by these side effects can contact their doctors for advice to reduce the symptoms but should not be alarmed.

Iron supplements are frequently used to prevent and treat iron-deficiency anemia, notes WebMD. Sometimes they are used to treat depression, fatigue or Crohn's disease. Although iron supplements are generally safe when taken as recommended by a physician, they are not for everyone. Patients with stomach ulcers or ulcerative colitis may find that iron supplements make their symptoms worse. Those who have hemoglobin diseases such as thalassemia should not take iron unless directed to do so by a physician, since iron supplements can lead to iron overload in these patients. The usual dose for treating iron deficiency is 50 to 100 milligrams of iron three times per day. Patients should not exceed this dose unless instructed to do so by a doctor.

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