Iron Supplements Causing Blood in Stools

Iron is an essential mineral that is important in the production of red blood cells. Lack of iron in the diet leads to iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency may also be caused by excess blood loss due to menstruation, burns, stomach ulcers, hemodialysis, intestinal diseases and stomach removal, according to the Mayo Clinic. Patients with symptoms iron deficiency are treated with iron supplements. Patients taking iron supplements may notice blood in their stool.

Red meat is a source of iron. Credit: Arias Fotografía/iStock/Getty Images

Iron Supplements and Bloody Stool

Patients taking iron supplements may notice blood in the stool. Iron supplements irritate the stomach lining, leading to stomach ulceration. Bloody stool is a serious complication of iron supplements, and patients should seek immediate medical attention when they notice dark red or bright red blood in the stool. Taking iron supplements together with food may decrease stomach irritation. The doctor may also prescribe coated iron supplements to decrease stomach irritation.

Iron Supplements and Black Stool

Oral iron supplements may also make stool to appear dark green or black. This is due to unabsorbed iron compound and is harmless, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, patients who experience sharp stomach pains and black stools that have red streaks should seek immediate medical help because they are symptoms of stomach bleeding caused by iron supplements.

Other Side Effects of Iron Supplements

Iron supplements also cause other side effects, such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, cramping, metallic taste, headache, dizziness, flushing, backache, rapid heart beat, fainting, chills, numbness, tingling of hands and feet and skin redness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Adverse side effects of iron supplements include trouble breathing, swelling of the mouth and throat, fever with increased sweating, unusual weakness, pale clammy skin and convulsions.

Iron Supplements Administration

Iron supplements are available into two forms -- ferrous and ferric -- according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Iron supplements may be administered as injections or orally. Iron supplements should be taken with vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C increases iron absorption. Taking iron with food also reduces stomach irritation. Patients should avoid taking excess iron supplements to prevent iron overload.

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