While anemia is not a typical symptom of IBS, people with IBS may develop anemia if they cannot absorb enough iron from their food.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the intestines.
IBS is characterized by symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation and is often associated with changes in bowel movements.
Anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. This leads to fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.
Read on to learn more about the connection between IBS and anemia.
IBS does not directly cause anemia. However, it can increase your risk of developing anemia, especially if you cannot absorb enough iron from your food.
Iron is an essential nutrient involved in the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. When your body doesn’t have enough iron, it can’t make enough hemoglobin. Your red blood cell count goes down, leading to iron deficiency anemia.
According to a
Reduced iron absorption in IBS may also be due to changes in bowel movements. Frequent diarrhea may not give your body enough time to absorb nutrients such as iron from your food.
In some cases, IBS can make it difficult for your body to digest certain types of carbohydrates, such as FODMAPs and insoluble fiber, due to dysfunction of your gut microbiome. This can lead to malabsorption of nutrients.
Anemia occurs when your body does not have enough red blood cells. This can lead to various symptoms. In people with IBS, anemia is often caused by low iron levels due to insufficient absorption of nutrients.
Symptoms of anemia may
- fatigue and weakness
- shortness of breath
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- pale skin or nail beds
- chest pain or discomfort
- sore or swollen tongue
- cold hands or feet
- difficulty concentrating
- brittle nails
Anemia stool color
Anemia does not typically cause significant changes in stool color or appearance. However, if anemia is caused by gastrointestinal bleeding, stool may appear black or tarry due to the presence of blood. This is known as melena.
Melena can indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as peptic ulcer, and it’s important to speak with a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
If you have IBS and are experiencing symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, or rapid heartbeat, you should contact a doctor.
You should also contact a doctor if you experience any of the following:
- unexplained weight loss
- severe abdominal pain or cramping
- long lasting diarrhea or constipation
- fatigue, weakness, or shortness of breath that gets worse or does not go away
- changes in stool color or consistency
The treatment of anemia in people with IBS often depends on the underlying cause and severity of the anemia. Common treatments for anemia in people with IBS
- Iron supplements: If your IBS in is remission, doctors may recommend oral iron supplements to help increase your iron levels. However, one
2017 reviewsuggests that iron supplements may worsen digestive symptoms.
- Dietary changes: Eating iron-rich foods such as poultry, red meat, seafood, fortified cereals, and legumes while in remission can help increase your iron levels. However, if you have difficulty tolerating certain foods, consider discussing appropriate dietary changes with your doctor.
- Treatment of underlying medical conditions: If anemia is caused by an underlying medical condition such as gastrointestinal bleeding, treating that condition can prevent further blood loss.
- Blood transfusions: In severe cases, blood transfusions may be necessary to improve symptoms and correct the anemia.
Here are some frequently asked questions about IBS and anemia:
Can low iron affect IBS?
Low iron levels can affect IBS by causing fatigue, weakness, and digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. These effects can further complicate IBS management.
Can digestive problems cause anemia?
Digestive problems such as irritable bowel disease, celiac disease, and gastrointestinal bleeding can cause anemia by reducing your body’s ability to absorb iron or causing blood loss.
Can I take iron supplements if I have IBS?
Yes, you can take iron supplements when your IBS is in remission. But it’s important to speak with a doctor first, as some forms of iron supplements
What foods help with anemia and IBS?
Foods high in iron, such as poultry, red meat, seafood, fortified cereals, and legumes, can help with anemia in IBS. However, consider speaking with a doctor to determine appropriate dietary changes for your needs.
There is a potential link between IBS and anemia, with research suggesting that people with IBS may develop anemia if they cannot absorb enough iron from food. Common symptoms of anemia in people with IBS include fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Treatment for anemia in IBS may involve addressing the underlying cause, changing your diet, and taking iron supplements. If you have IBS and suspect that you may have anemia, consider speaking with a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.