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Anemia + IBD

Anemia and IBD

IBD affects the entire body.  Inflammation and extra-intestinal symptoms and manifestations of the disease can show up in a variety of ways.   Anemia is one of the key symptoms of IBD.  Iron deficiency and low vitamin B12 cause anemia .  These are two of the most common issues associated with digestive issues.

Anemia in IBD is caused by a variety of factors.  The main causes that link anemia and IBD are loss of blood, not absorbing or making enough essential nutrients like Vitamin B12, and the immune system destroying the red blood cells.

Symptoms of anemia

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • hairloss

Usually, anemia causes symptoms that are very similar to those of IBD.  As a result, when symptoms are mild enough anemia and IBD can be a bit difficult to diagnose.  However, a hemoglobin and hematocrit test can confirm as well as an analysis of your symptoms.  In addition, to fatigue, weakness, pallor (pale skin), and migraines, anemia causes a variety of other problems when untreated.  This includes damage to the heart, brain, liver, and other organs.

Chronic health conditions that cause anemia

  • celiac disease
  • iron deficiency or overload
  • pregnancy
  • chronic diseases (IBD, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease

Crohns + Ulcerative colitis iron deficiency

At least 1/3 of IBD patients are iron deficient. 

Iron plays a major role in health.  It is responsible for transporting oxygen, maintaining healthy brain function, and regulating our metabolism.  Also, iron is involved in energy production and immune function.

Iron deficiency anemia is likely to occur in ulcerative colitis patients as well as those with Crohn’s.  In anemia, iron circulating in the blood is low. The leading cause of iron deficiency is blood loss as a result of gastrointestinal conditions.  Often, ulcerative colitis patients need take iron supplements to boost their iron levels.  This is especially true to those with an ileostomy, since iron absorption happens in the intestine once removed iron deficiencies are common

Anemia in Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s

Inflammatory bowel disease can lead to anemia of inflammatory and chronic disease.  Sometimes, iron deficiency or lack of proper diet are not the problem.  Digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and even irritable bowel syndrome interfere with red blood cell health and production.

AI/ ACD Anemia – Anemia of inflammatory or chronic diseases

AI/ACD anemia of inflammatory and anemia of chronic disease and  IDA iron deficiency anemia are common in people with IBD.  In fact, IBD and anemia can be caused by an  iron deficiency or an overload of iron.  The iron deficiency is mostly due to chronic blood loss and iron malabsorption as a result of tissue inflammation.  With this type of anemia immune cytokines interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use iron.  As a result, the problem reoccurs and patients suffer with energy problems and nutrition for extended periods of times.

Vitamin B12 and anemia

Vitamin B12 is essential for health.  This form of anemia means that red blood cells are not of healthy size or levels.  It is important to understand the role of Vitamin B12 because it uncovers a truth most people overlook.   In fact, most people think that by consuming more iron rich foods they will cure anemia.  However, the reality is that without sufficient VitaminB12 the iron cannot be readily absorbed.

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes fatigue and a host of other problems.  It is produced in the gut, and IBD patients with damage to the intestine definitely suffer from a lack of it.  See more on Vitamin B12 deficiency on this article on Weston Price Foundation.



Pediatric Anemia

Anemia in kids is extremely common.  Usually, this is a guiding symptom instead of a diagnosis.  For example, many parents discover inflammatory bowel disease or other issues when uncovering the cause of the anemia diagnosis.  Kids with IBD are more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia.  It is important to have nutrient dense diets and proper IBD treatment.  This helps avoid growth and developmental problems that may result from nutrient deficiency (iron, B12) in the diet or as a result of surgery.

Treating anemia and IBD

Depending on what the cause of your anemia, your doctor will provide different treatment options.  For iron deficiency anemia iron supplements are usually the first step.  Other medications stimulate bone marrow to make more blood cells.

Natural treatment for anemia includes dietary and lifestyle changes.  Basically, foods high in iron or nutrients that help absorb iron are always recommend.  In addition, avoid artificial sweeteners and nutritionally void foods.  Most importantly, stay on track with your treatment whether it is medication, lifestyle changes or a combination of the two.  Note, that anemia reoccurs in IBD patients, the best way to prevent it to treat both anemia and IBD (the underlying condition).

Anemia overview:

Anemia occurs when red blood cell counts are low.  It is diagnosed through a hematocrit or hemoglobin blood test.  IBD and anemia are a concerning problem linked through inflammation, diarrhea, and blood loss that IBD patients go through.  In fact, anemia is one of the most common complications of Crohn’s and Colitis.

Fortunately, it can be treated to reduce symptoms and improve underlying issues (in this case IBD).  It’s important to seek treatment because the condition may be mild when it begins and progressively worsen making healing harder.  Anemia and IBD are closely linked, improve both by treating poor gut health and nutrient deficiencies together to boost your health and well being.

2018-06-01T18:41:26+00:00By |0 Comments

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