Treatment options for iron deficiency in IBD
Once your doctor has understood your symptoms and looked at the results of your blood tests they will be able to confirm if you are iron deficient or have iron deficiency anaemia, and recommend the best treatment for you.
One treatment option may be to increase the amount of iron in your diet by eating more iron-rich foods like red meat, liver, enriched cereals and leafy greens1. When planning meals, this guide may help you choose food that is rich in iron. Talk to your doctor if you are planning on changing your diet as you may need to consider whether certain iron-rich foods might increase the symptoms of your IBD. For example, it may be best for you to avoid some beans, legumes and fibre-rich foods like broccoli if you are currently experiencing a flare-up of your IBD. When your IBD is in remission, however, you will likely be able to eat many iron-rich foods so you can maintain your iron stores.
Although dietary sources can help you to maintain good iron levels, if you are anaemic you may also have to be given extra iron. Your doctor may give you extra iron in the form of:
- Oral iron supplements, available over the counter or on prescription2
- Intravenous iron, where iron is delivered directly into your blood stream through a vein, for example through ‘a drip’ or an injection2
- A blood transfusion, if your iron levels are extremely low3
Some treatments may be more suitable for you than others, depending on your level of iron deficiency, how your IBD is at the time and what other medications you are on. Your doctor will be able to discuss the treatment options available to you and advise you on the most suitable treatment option for your condition.
It may take dierent lengths of time for you to feel better, depending on the treatment. It is best to find out from your doctor when you can expect to notice a positive effect4. If you are having problems with your treatment and experiencing side effects,or finding that your symptoms are not improving, go to see your doctor again for advice.
- 1. Michael Alleyne, McDonald K. Horne, MDb, and Jeffery L. Miller M. Individualized treatment for iron deficiency anemia in adults. Am J Med. 2008;121(11):943-948. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2008.07.012.Individualized.
- 2. a. b. Stein J, Hartmann F, Dignass AU. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anemia in patients with IBD. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;7(11):599-610. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2010.151.
- 3. Gomollón F, Gisbert JP. Current Management of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Practical Guide. Drugs. 2013;73(16):1761-70.
- 4. Goddard AF, James MW, McIntyre AS, Scott BB. Guidelines for the management of iron deficiency anaemia. Gut. 2011;60(10):1309-16. doi:10.1136/gut.2010.228874.