What is iron supplement?

Iron Supplement

Iron supplements for children: Overview

Children take iron supplements when their bodies do not have enough iron. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin is part of red blood cells. It carries oxygen through the body. Without enough oxygen, your child may feel weak, dizzy, and short of breath. He or she may tire easily. Your child also may be fussy, have a short attention span, and grow more slowly than normal.

Most children begin to feel normal after a few weeks of taking iron pills. But your child needs to take the pills for several months to build up the iron supply in his or her body. This can take up to 6 months.

What are some examples of iron supplements for children?

  • Ferrous fumarate
  • Ferrous gluconate
  • Ferrous sulfate

You can buy iron supplements without a prescription. Your doctor will have instructions on how much to take and for how long. Your doctor will also tell you whether your child needs any testing for iron levels.

How can you safely give iron supplements to your child?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
    • Try to give the pills on an empty stomach about 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. But your child may need to take the iron with food to avoid a stomachache.
    • Do not give your child antacids or let your child drink milk or caffeine drinks such as cola at the same time or within 2 hours of the time that your child takes iron pills. They can keep the body from absorbing the iron well.
    • Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. You may want to give iron pills with a glass of orange juice or some other food high in vitamin C.
    • Iron pills may cause stomach problems, such as heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and cramps. Be sure your child drinks plenty of fluids and eats fruits, vegetables, and fiber each day.
    • Iron pills can change the color of your child's stool to a greenish or grayish black. This is normal. But internal bleeding also can cause dark stool. So be sure to tell your doctor about any color changes.
    • Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with the iron pills. Even after your child starts feeling better, it will take several months for the body to build up its supply of iron.
    • If your child misses taking a pill on time, do not give a double dose of iron. Give the next dose at the scheduled time.
  • Liquid forms of iron can stain your child's teeth. You can mix a dose of liquid iron in water, fruit juice, or tomato juice. Have your child drink it with a straw so that it does not get on your child's teeth.
  • Check with your doctor before you give your child any other medicines, including over-the-counter medicines. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements your child takes. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.
  • Keep iron pills out of the reach of small children. Too much iron can be very dangerous.

What are the side effects of iron supplements for children?

Common side effects may include:

  • Stomachache.
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Black stools.

Your child may have other side effects or reactions not listed here. Check the information that comes with the medicine.

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