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Fatigue and AnemiaFatigue and Anemia
           
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iron supplements
May 12, 2002

Good Afternoon, Will supplemental iron help with a slightly low rbc. It's not low enough to warrant epogen treatment, but I am experiencing fatigue,acne,hair loss and shortness of breath,just a general crappy look and feel.My doctor thinks it's a waste of time,but my concern is it being tough on the liver along with the already toxic meds. What is your opinion? Thank you

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Supplemental iron will only help if you are iron deficient. Your doctor should measure your "iron stores" (blood test). If they are low, sure, try the iron. If, however, they are normal, don't bother. Who needs another pill? Your symptoms certainly sound like anemia - fatigue, shortness of breath, feeling crappy. How low is your hemoglobin? The lower range for men is 14 g/dL and for women, 12 g/dL. Treatment of even mild to moderate anemia with Procrit (epogen) in the setting of HIV or cancer has been shown to significantly improve quality of life and energy levels.

Write back with your lab values and, if possible, check to see what your hemoglobin has been doing over the past year. In other words, are you consistently drifting downward? We might want to reconsider Procrit treatment if that's the case. Certainly your quality of life and energy level could use a boost, and we might be able to do that by boosting your number of red blood cells.

Dr. Bob


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