What Causes Anemia?
It’s important to pinpoint the cause of your anemia in order to treat it effectively.
Fatigue, weakness, paleness, dizziness, loss of concentration, headaches, shortness of breath and rapid or irregular heartbeat are all symptoms of anemia. These symptoms occur because other body systems are working harder to deliver oxygen throughout the body.
Many people with mild to moderate anemia do not experience any symptoms. This is because anemia happens gradually; over time, your body can get used to living at a lower energy level.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract causing structural disorders and changes to the colon and/or small intestine. Types of IBD include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Celiac disease (sprue, gluten sensitivity) is another inflammatory intestinal disease that involves the small intestine and can present with unexplained anemia and no intestinal symptoms.
Anemia is a common added problem for patients with IBD and celiac disease. Iron deficiency is often a major cause. Anemia results from intestinal bleeding and/or the inability to absorb nutrients, like iron, across an inflamed intestine. Other nutrients important in red blood cell production, including Vitamin B12, may be lacking in patients with IBD due to inflammation or diarrhea.
Anemia is treatable in IBD but treatment may be complicated. Oral iron therapy is generally not effective and can worsen the intestinal symptoms. Patients with IBD may need care by anemia specialists while their gastroenterology specialist manages their intestinal problem.