How iron preparations cause black stools

Iron Deficiency Anemia: Therapy

First and foremost, a therapy is sought that eliminates the actual causes. So the increased bleeding has to be stopped first! Then the emptied iron stores have to be refilled. It does this through the intake of iron tablets and an iron-rich diet.

Since the body can only absorb iron in limited quantities from food and it takes a relatively long time until the iron stores are filled again, iron therapy should be carried out for at least 3 to 6 months. However, the first changes in the blood count can already be seen after 8 to 10 days: Precursors of mature blood cells, the reticulocytes, are visible in the blood smear as a sign of increased blood cell formation. An increase in hemoglobin levels should then also be detectable in the blood.

In particularly severe cases of iron deficiency, such as inflammatory stomach and intestinal diseases, the iron must be administered directly into the bloodstream. This avoids the losses that would occur if it were absorbed through the digestive tract. Strict monitoring by a specialist should be carried out here so that possible serious side effects such as heart pain, nausea or an allergic shock can be avoided or treated quickly.

Advice on iron therapy

  • Iron therapy can turn your stool black, so don't be alarmed. Make sure you take the iron supplement 1 to 2 hours before or after meals, otherwise you may experience uncomfortable abdominal pain. Constipation is a common nasty side effect of iron therapy. The dose or the preparation should possibly be changed.
  • In principle, iron tablets should not be taken at the same time as certain antibiotics (tetracyclines), antacids (stomach protection drugs), as they prevent each other from being absorbed by the small intestine and thus cannot work.
  • Also bear in mind that tea and coffee, magnesium and calcium, which milk also contains in high proportions, hinder iron absorption. Therefore, you should take your iron supplement at least 2 hours laterally from these stimulants.
  • Vitamin C, on the other hand, significantly improves iron absorption. The simultaneous presence of heme iron (meat, fish) also increases absorption.