iron pills = diarrhea?

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map lady
Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 154
   Posted 6/3/2008 10:06 AM (GMT -6)   
I've been on iron pills for just over 3 weeks and I have to go to the bathroom a lot more often.  I was going once per day, which was nice, but now I have to go usually 3x per day since starting the iron pills.  I am already eating lots of fiber and havent changed my food habits since before the iron.
I thought oh boy, I should maybe let the doctor know, after all, I should be constipated from the iron!  Then I read the box and it says may cause constipation or diarrhea.  I'm guessing I have won option #2, and thought that was pretty funny.
Anyone else have to go more often while on iron?

Rider Fan
Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 1445
   Posted 6/3/2008 10:10 AM (GMT -6)   
Yes! Iron pills make my CD much worse.
Dx'ed in 1999. No surgeries.

Current meds: 75 mg 6MP. 20mg prednisone.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2004
Total Posts : 422
   Posted 6/3/2008 11:46 AM (GMT -6)   
I've been on Iron for over 2 months now. The first month was the WORST. Those pills made my already frequent D even more painful. 2 months into it, though, my body has adjusted. Give yourself a couple of more weeks. Hopefully, your body will adjust to these nasty little pills, too. :)
Diagnosed in October, 2004 at age 33.
Current Rx's: Colazal (generic), Nexium (generic), Ferrous Sulfate, One-A-Day multivitamin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Calcium-Magnesium-Zinc, Cranberry pills
Secondary conditions: mouth ulcers, joint pain, swelling ankles, extreme fatigue
Previous/occasional Rx's: 20mg Prednisone taper, Flagyl, Levaquin
No surgeries to date

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 1642
   Posted 6/3/2008 2:39 PM (GMT -6)   

I took them after my first child was born and I remember getting diarrhea when the Doctor told me I could get constipated. This was before I was diagnosed. I remember the relief when the Dr said I could stop taking them.



Karen (Karendee)

Diagnosed w/ Crohn’s Disease  March 2007 On 150mg Azathioprine (generic Imuran), Pentasa, & Entocort (take zofran for nausea now)

Diagnosed w/  Fibromyalgia May 2007 also on Soma

Also on Prilosec 2x a day for reflux.


map lady
Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 154
   Posted 6/3/2008 3:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Yeah, on one hand I wish I could stop taking them since my butt hurts from the bathroom visits, but on the other hand I want to take them forever because I feel so terrible if I'm even 2 hours past the usual time of eating them in the morning.
Is there any trick to get iron to absorb better?  That would be double bonus, less bathroom and more iron energy boost.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 4056
   Posted 6/3/2008 4:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I can't tolerate iron pills. The last two times I was severely anemic, I went in for an iron infusion. You get iron by IV for about 6 hours and it helps build up your iron stores for several months. They need to run a tiny amount first to make sure you are not allergic to it, but it was extremely helpful for GI issues from the iron, and I reovered from my anemia quickly. Ask your doc about it if iron pills aren't for you.
49 yr. old female, diagnosed with Crohn's in small intestine and terminal ileum Sept-Oct. 2007. Also have IBS, and had Salmonella Dec. '07
currently taking Pentasa- 8 250mg pills per day, Cipro 1 week/month, Metamucil, probiotics

Dave D
Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 404
   Posted 6/3/2008 4:31 PM (GMT -6)   

Iron pills gave me the big D too. So, I found a hematologist who measures my iron stores, then gives me an iron infusion. It's not as fast as a blood transfusion, but I'm not receiving anybody elses body fluids. Still, in about three days, I'm ready for the dance.

BTW, I bouught a BMS hemaglobinometer on ebay for under $50. Now i check my own hgb whenever I want.

Dave D

Retired male in late 60's. Perforated Colon in 92. Diagnosed as Ulcerative Colitis in 93. Uncontrolled flareup in 97 dictated J-pouch surgery. 04 Capsule endoscopy diagnosed as Crohns not UC. Emergency surgery in 05 to remove lodged camera capsule. Biopsies positively diagnosed Crohns at that time. 12/06 Unsucessfully tried Naltrexone(LDN). 2/07 developed scleritis of the eye, tearing and detaching the retina. Treated with high doses of Prednisone. 6/07 Thought eye was healing and started taking Entocort counting on the residual (non-systemic portion) as treating the eye. Wrong. In October eye was not stabilized. 11/07 Started Remicade to try and reduce the ocular inflamation of the Scleritis since I had been requiring more and more Prednisone to keep the eye quiet. 12/07, retina tares and detaches again. Started Remicade every 4 weeks plus 20mg of Prednisone per day. Six months and seven infusions later, good eye is back to 20/14. Bad eye is 20/70. Set for cataract surgery in June 08 on bad eye. Should return to a correcable visionary level. Life looks good (literally) today.
Married with 4 grandkids.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 656
   Posted 6/3/2008 4:51 PM (GMT -6)   
I can't take iron tablets, either. They gave me gripping abdominal pains and lots more D. I wound up having many small iron infusions once a week for 32 weeks--and that worked a lot better.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2113
   Posted 6/3/2008 5:38 PM (GMT -6)   
Any trick to absorb better?

Change the formulation you are using if you are taking ferrous sulfide switch to Vitron C or Gentle Iron. If your iron pill does not contain vitamin C take Vitamin C with your iron.

I can not take ferrous sulfate it makes me have all kinds of stomach issues but I have no trouble at all from Vitron C (Ferrous fuminate(SP)).

Hope that helps.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 227
   Posted 6/13/2008 2:32 PM (GMT -6)   
Those of us who are on the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) cannot consume iron pills, due to the side effects. Some words of wisdom on the subject:

The SCD recommendation is to consume iron in its "natural" form- liver, or liver pate. Also acceptable: marrow bones. I think the "?" marks in the quantities below are "1/2" or perhaps "1/4".

Iron deficiency-Anemia
Marrow Bone Boullion [?] back to Preparation and Recipes
1 pound of marrow bones
1 quart of water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped celery
? teaspoon pepper
? cup chopped carrots
? cup of minced onions
1. Add ingredients to pan.
2. Bring to boil, followed by simmer conditions until cooked to broth
3. Remove marrow bones.
4. Pour broth into into ice cube trays and freeze
5. Add to soup, chili and etc. as needed.
Note: Bone marrow is very nutritious . . . use and use often.

Some folks on the SCD consume freeze-dried liver pills- they have other supplements in there as well, most of which could certainly be used by those of us with Crohn's.

Also suggested: red meat. Many iron pills provide iron in a form that is poorly absorbed, such as iron sulfate or similar. Heme iron (iron that is locked into hemoglobin as in blood) is most readily transformed into "human" heme iron (as hemoglobin is different in each animal species); therefore, iron that is already chelated is most readily used, versus that in iron salts such as iron sulfate.

Elite Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 10404
   Posted 6/13/2008 6:52 PM (GMT -6)   
You might like to consult with your doctor about finding a specific supplement that won't upset your innards. I won't recommend one myself, as I'm in Australia and the brands are likely to be different.

The one I was given was the type prescribed to pregnant women - they give them this particular supplement because it has a lower chance of producing gastro side effects.
Co-Moderator Crohn's Forum.

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