Iron Deficiency Anemia

What is Iron-Deficiency Anemia?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “anemia is a condition where a person has a lower than a normal number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells drops below normal, which prevents the body’s cells from getting oxygen.1

Anemia can be confirmed by several blood tests, but it also has symptoms that you may notice impacting your daily life. Symptoms such as extreme fatigue, rapid heartbeat, paleness, brittle nails and hair loss, and generalized weakness. A CBC (complete blood count) will be drawn to confirm your iron levels.

Absorption

For those of us living with a chronic condition, we may not be able to absorb the iron we intake and use it efficiently. When we deal with our chronic diseases and infections, the cells of the immune system release proteins called Cytokines, which help in assisting to heal the body as well as defend the body against infections.

As mentioned, those of us living with IBD can struggle with absorption by certain portions of the diseased intestine. Iron is absorbed in the small intestine, mainly the duodenum and the beginning of the jejunum. This may make dealing with deficiency a bit more challenging, as often the first plan of action in anemia is iron pills. Your doctor may prescribe them according to your weight or he/she may have a regimen in place (2 pills a day, etc). Some of the side effects of taking the oral iron supplement include nausea and vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain and noticeably dark stool.

Side Effects

Unfortunately, because of some of the side effects of oral iron, there are patients that who cannot tolerate the pills and intravenous iron may be a better fit for them. Intravenous iron comes in a few forms, that your doctor will discuss with you. Check with your insurance company, as often times, they will have restrictions on what form is covered.

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