IDA usually occurs when iron levels are not high enough to produce healthy red blood cells. This type of anemia can have mild, moderate, or severe signs and symptoms.
Iron deficiency anemia patients may initially show no signs or symptoms of the disease, but as it progresses, patients may start to feel fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, dizziness, or see brittle nails. More severe symptoms of IDA include heart problems or infection.
According to the campaign, iron deficiency anemia is estimated to affect 36-76 percent of people living with IBD. In the United States, IDA is estimated to affect five million adults.
Iron deficiency anemia is especially common in IBD patients because they may suffer from ulcerations or small tears in their digestive tract, which in turn leads to iron loss. IBD may also cause intestinal inflammation, making it more difficult to absorb iron from diet alone.
Through the campaign’s website, patients can access easy-to-understand information and resources, including educational videos and infographics to learn more about the importance of knowing their iron levels.
It is important for IBD patients to speak openly about their health with their care providers, as signs and symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose IDA. The resources available through the campaign may help start these conversations.
“So many IBD patients are living with IDA without even knowing it. And for those who do know, there are limited tools and resources for them to find out more about their disease,” Michael Osso, president and CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, said in a press release.
“It’s important that people with IBD listen to their bodies and talk to their doctors if they notice any signs or symptoms of IDA,” said Jason Hou, gastroenterologist at Baylor College of Medicine. “I always encourage my patients to speak up when they feel symptoms, so that we can work together to manage their health and develop a plan that best suits their individual needs.”
Linda Mundy, MD, of the Daiichi Sankyo Group, added that iron is an essential mineral necessary to keep people healthy — “without it, your body is not able to produce red blood cells and transport oxygen,” she said.
In related news, in February researchers in Germany found that IBD patients suffering from iron deficiency anemia who were administered iron intravenously were hospitalized less frequently and had lower total healthcare costs than patients who took iron orally.
The treatment for IDA is the administration of either intravenous (IV) iron or oral iron therapy. In this study, which was one of the first to compare the two methods, IV iron was shown to have better clinical benefits than oral iron therapy.
The study, “Oral versus intravenous iron therapy in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and iron deficiency with and without anemia in Germany – a real-world evidence analysis,” was published in the journal ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research.
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