If you have a gastrointestinal condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, you’re more likely to develop anemia. Dr. Jeffrey Fenyves and Dr. Stephen Fry at Tri-Cities Gastroenterology have extensive experience monitoring their patients, identifying anemia, and implementing treatments that are customized to work for each patient. If you have questions about anemia, call one of their offices in Kingsport, Johnson City, and Elizabethton, Tennessee, or book an appointment online for a thorough examination.
Anemia Q & A
What causes anemia?
Anemia arises from a shortage of red blood cells, which contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to tissues throughout your body. When you have anemia, your body doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to produce energy and keep your body functioning.
A shortage of red blood cells occurs when:
Your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells
Bleeding makes you lose red blood cells faster than your body can replace them
Your body destroys existing red blood cells
What is iron-deficiency anemia?
Iron-deficiency anemia – the most common type of anemia – occurs when you don’t have enough iron to produce sufficient hemoglobin. It can be caused by lack of iron in your diet or poor absorption of the iron you consume. In most cases, however, iron-deficiency anemia develops due to blood loss.
Intestinal disorders such celiac sprue and inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, cause the type of chronic bleeding that leads to iron-deficiency anemia.
What are the symptoms of anemia?
When you have anemia you’ll experience:
Shortness of breath
Cold in your hands and feet
Chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeats
Slow growth and development and behavior problems in children
How is iron-deficiency anemia treated?
Your doctor at Tri-Cities Gastroenterology runs tests to determine the levels of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and iron in your blood. If your symptoms indicate an underlying gastrointestinal (GI) problem, you may also need a diagnostic test such as an endoscopy or colonoscopy to determine the problem and identify the source of your bleeding.
Your treatment plan includes steps to deal with the underlying condition and restore iron levels. Iron deficiencies aren’t fixed quickly, so you may need treatment over the course of a year or longer to ensure your health.
Some patients can replace their iron with supplements. However, oral supplements aren’t the best option for some patients with a GI condition because they may not absorb the iron or the supplements may worsen symptoms like diarrhea, inflammation, and GI distress.
If your iron deficiency is severe, you have absorption problems, or you have a GI disease, your doctor may recommend an iron infusion. During an infusion, your iron is administered intravenously.
If you experience symptoms of anemia, call Tri-Cities Gastroenterology or book an appointment online to receive expert treatment.