Can Iron Supplements Cause Hemorrhoids ?

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Hemorrhoids area common problem for many people,and supplements exist to help treat the condition. There are many reasons why a hemorrhoid may form and getting a hemorrhoid is quite normal. Consuming certain medications, vitamins and supplements can directly or indirectly affect the formation of hemorrhoids. Supplements and medications may have gastrointestinal side effects, which in turn could result in your hemorrhoids becoming worse.

Iron is important for the body to function optimally, however, taking iron supplements can lead to adverse reactions. Iron supplements are one of the potential triggers for hemorrhoids.

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Iron is Essential for the Body to Function

Sufficient iron is vital for your body to produce enough red blood cells. Iron-rich red blood cells are the vehicles in the body: they take oxygen from the lungs and send it to other tissues and organs in the body, and red blood cells move carbon dioxide back to the lungs from the body tissues.

Some people may have too little iron in their bodies. This is called an iron deficiency, sometimes called anemia. An iron deficiency can lead to tiredness, headaches,and dizziness, feeling short of breath, and appearing pale. A few of the reasons, among others, for iron deficiency are:

Although it rarely happens, bleeding hemorrhoids could lead to excessive blood loss. This, in turn, can result in anemia or iron deficiency.

There are also other reasons for taking iron supplements. Iron is essential when a person experiences a growth spurt, and during pregnancy. Furthermore, women who are breastfeeding may require additional iron. To combat the iron deficiency, or to provide additional iron to the body, a physician may prescribe an iron supplement to increase the iron levels in your body. However, iron supplements can have a downside.

The Relationship between Iron and Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoidal tissue is present around the anus. A hemorrhoid occurs when the veins swell around the rectum. The swelling can be internally or externally in relation to the anal opening. The hemorrhoid could also lead to inflammation,and this can make it painful to pass stool.

One of the major side effects of iron supplements is that they may cause bowel irritation and constipation. This is often the case with women and older individuals. To pass stool when constipated requires you to place a strain on your bowels and rectum. This additional pressure on the hemorrhoidal tissue may lead to hemorrhoids.

Straining, in its own capacity, is a characteristic experienced by most people suffering from hemorrhoids. Bleeding can also result from excessive straining. Thus, being constipated and straining is double trouble when it comes to hemorrhoids, especially since these two problems will occur simultaneously.

In contrast, iron supplements may cause diarrhea for a few individuals. Passing stool frequently can also lead to unnecessary strain on the rectum. Additionally, very soft stool may be highly acidic. The acid may irritate the digestive tract and hemorrhoidal tissue and could result in hemorrhoid formation or worsen existing hemorrhoids.

It doesn’t matter if you had hemorrhoids prior to being prescribed iron, or if the hemorrhoids are an unwanted side effect from taking iron supplements, the situation remains a problem for many people. Iron deficiency is a serious condition that requires corrective action for you to be healthy and for proper functioning of your body.

Supplementing Iron in Your Body

Take your iron supplements as prescribed by your doctor. It is best to take the iron supplement in the morning before eating any food. An empty stomach will absorb the iron better, especially since some foods can lead to malabsorption of iron.

Foods rich in Vitamin C will help your body to absorb the iron. These include guava, peas, broccoli, citrus fruits, brussel sprouts, capsicums, and kale, among others. Eating these foods will ensure the iron is properly absorbed by your body.

You can also consume iron by eating specific foods. Many foods contain iron, such as beans, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. Most people get the daily recommended amount of iron by simply eating these foods. If you are taking an iron supplement, you should still add these foods to your diet.

Many of these foods will also provide your body with fiber. Fiber is important for people suffering from hemorrhoids. Following a high fiber diet can ease some of the problems and many of the foods that help to absorb iron are also rich in fiber.

Talk to Your Doctor about Hemorrhoids and Iron

Iron supplements may be crucial for you to stay healthy, especially during pregnancy or if you have lost a lot of blood. However, side effects from the iron supplements such as constipation or diarrhea can result in, or aggravate, hemorrhoids. Certain foods can supply iron and fiber to your body, which is essential to treat hemorrhoids. Discuss your iron deficiency and hemorrhoid problems with your doctor to ensure that you get the correct treatment.

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