Treating Anemia Caused By Ulcerative Colitis


Erin Azuse

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Woman with stomachache

If you have ulcerative colitis, you know living with it can be tough. From stomach pain to diarrhea to fevers, you’ve probably experienced some unpleasant symptoms. In addition, studies suggest that more than 20% of people with ulcerative colitis also suffer from anemia, a condition in which your body has too few red blood cells, and this can make you feel even worse. The good news is anemia can be treated, but the right treatment can depend on what exactly is causing it. If you have ulcerative colitis, here are some important things for you to know.   

Ulcerative colitis increases the risk of anemia. 

Along with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes long-term inflammation of the large intestine and the rectum, which results in the formation of ulcers, or sores, along its inner lining. The ulcers and inflammation lead to pain and diarrhea. Other symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

  • Blood in stool or rectal bleeding

  • Increased frequency and urgency with bowel movements

  • Decreased appetite

  • Nausea

  • Weight loss

Ulcerative colitis prevents your intestines from absorbing important vitamins and nutrients, like iron, folate and vitamin B12, which are needed to make red blood cells that deliver oxygen throughout your body. Additionally, as a result of blood loss that can occur, your body may lose red blood cells faster than it can replenish them. These factors increase the risk for anemia.

Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. Learn these interesting facts about the condition.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 4, 2017

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