Published on Jun 01, 2020
Authored by Feisia Dam, BPharm(Hons)
Fighting fatigue can be a constant battle when you have inflammatory bowel disease. You might be struggling to remember things or perhaps look and feel like you’re a zombie. In our previous article we talked about Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis - two conditions under the umbrella of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and that it can cause iron deficiency anaemia. While fatigue can have several causes, we go in depth on how iron deficiency anaemia develops and give you SEVEN tips on what you can do to fight it.
Iron deficiency anaemia happens because the body does not have enough iron stores to create healthy red blood cells. These cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to feed your organs, muscles and tissue. That’s why iron deficiency anaemia can leave people feeling tired, short of breath, having headaches, looking pale and having cold hands and feet.
There are two forces going against you in IBD: too little iron coming in, and too much iron going out.
Let's dive into how iron deficiency occurs in IBD.
Too little iron coming in:
Firstly, you might not feel like eating or feel nauseous. Resulting in less food intake and lower amounts of iron, amongst other nutrients, to be available to the body.
Secondly, inflammation can reduce the amount of iron absorbed into the body. Think about how hard it would be to insert a coin into a piggy bank if the slot is swollen. Inflammation in the bowel makes it harder for the nutrients to enter the blood stream.
Too much iron going out:
Over time, chronic inflammation causes ulcers or sores in the intestines. During a flare, the attack is relentless; there is no time for the sores to heal, so they continue to bleed. Since your blood contains about 60% of the body’s iron, that accounts for a lot!
First and foremost, don’t accept tiredness as a “new-normal”. Talk to your doctor if you are worried you have iron deficiency anaemia and haven’t had a recent blood test.
Seven things you can do include:
Be open and honest with your doctor, especially if your symptoms don’t seem to improve or if side effects are getting on top of you.
Together, you can find the right option that works for you.
Last reviewed: 8/10/2019
-Crohn’s & Colitis Australia
-Health Direct: Iron Deficiency
-Crohn’s & Colitis New Zealand
-Health Navigator Iron Deficiency