Hemorrhoids and Iron Deficiency: Can Hemorrhoids Cause Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the body’s supplies of iron are low, hindering the body from making enough red blood cells. These cells are vital to the overall health of the body as their primary job is to carry oxygen to the organs. When there aren’t enough red blood cells, oxygen isn’t making it to each of the organs. This can cause multiple problems.

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Cold extremities

If not treated, it can eventually lead to more serious complications such as organ failure.

Hemorrhoids may play a role in iron deficiency anemia.

What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia can be caused by many health conditions, including blood loss, a lack of ability to absorb iron or even pregnancy. It can also be brought on by not eating an adequate amount of iron-rich foods.

Health conditions such as ulcers, polyps, or hemorrhoids can each cause iron deficiency anemia. The instance of hemorrhoids causing anemia to this extreme is not common, but it does happen. Bleeding rectally due to hemorrhoids can lead to large amounts of blood being lost from the body.

If you are concerned you have iron deficiency anemia associated with a hemorrhoid, contact your doctor. Iron deficiency anemia can only be diagnosed by a blood test or a series of blood tests. Your doctor will be looking at the complete blood count, or CBC, to see the levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit in the body.They may also order secondary tests such as a colonoscopy to rule out other possible causes of iron deficiency anemia.

What Is A Hemorrhoid?

A hemorrhoid is a vein or a group of veins located near the anus. They are similar to varicose veins, and they’re typically swollen or protruding. There are two types of hemorrhoids.

  • Internal
  • External

Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum, while external hemorrhoids form under the skin on the outside of the anus. You will not always be able to feel an internal hemorrhoid. However, an external hemorrhoid can usually be felt with an examination of the area. Regardless of whether they are internal or external, they can cause pain, itching, and bleeding.

Hemorrhoids develop for various reasons, including hard or frequent stools. They can also be caused by extra pressure on the area due to conditions such as pregnancy or sitting for prolonged periods of time. Hemorrhoids are very common, with roughly 75% of the adult population having one at least once.

If you’re concerned you may have a hemorrhoid, you can contact your physician. Doctors will perform a physical exam to confirm the presence of a hemorrhoid. In the instance that a hemorrhoid is causing significant blood loss, the doctor will order a blood test to check for iron deficiency anemia.

How Can You Treat Hemorrhoids and Iron Deficiency Anemia?

It is important to begin treatment immediately for iron deficiency because prolonged anemia can lead to uncomfortable and even serious health complications. Treatment will include increasing your iron intake. Many foods are rich in iron.

  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Liver
  • Red meats, fish, or tofu
  • Brown rice
  • Raisins, prunes, and apricots

Your doctor may also prescribe an iron supplement to boost the iron stores in the body.

It is equally as important to treat the cause of the anemia—the hemorrhoid. There are many ways to treat hemorrhoids. These include at-home remedies, medical procedures, or in severe cases, surgery.

  • Increase your fiber intake. Fiber helps soften stool, so it can be passed easily. High fiber foods include fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Another way to get more fiber is through fiber supplements. These can be beneficial for those who cannot get enough fiber through their diet, or those who continue to suffer from hard stools.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can also help keep your stool soft.
  • Stay active. Regular movement keeps your body in motion. This can help your digestive system stay active and regular.
  • Don’t hold it. Going as soon as you feel the urge for a bowel movement can prevent the stool from becoming harder.
  • Medicated ointments and wipes can help ease the pain and itching associated with hemorrhoids.
  • Soaking in a sitz bath can help a hemorrhoid heal faster.

If all at-home treatments fail to relieve hemorrhoids, and bleeding continues, it can be helpful to consider other options.

  • Rubber band ligation, injections, or coagulation: These procedures can be done by your doctor to treat the hemorrhoid without surgery.
  • Hemorrhoid removal or hemorrhoid stapling: These procedures are both considered surgical, but they may be the best option for those who have tried other measures and continue to suffer from hemorrhoids.

Conclusion

If you or someone you know is suffering from hemorrhoids and iron deficiency anemia, it is best to work with a physician on a treatment plan. At Los Angeles Colon & Rectal Surgical Associates, we work with our patients to determine the best course of action for their unique situation.