could a mild flare be causing anemia?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 130
   Posted 8/8/2009 1:04 PM (GMT -6)   
So a general question.... does anyone have any experience with anemia?  I don't know if i've ever had it before, but I wonder if i have it now.  I am going through a flare-up with blood and mucus, but no serious diarheah.  I have also just been wiped out tired, with no energy to do i come home from work and look at the house (it's a mess!) and i just have no energy to do anything about it.  
while I'll admit that I'm not the worlds best housekeeper, this is tired, even for me.  i go to see my doctor on Friday 8/14, so hopefully things'll get better after then.  In the meantime, however, I wonder if my lack of energy could be anemia...any opinions? 
Ulcerative Colitis, dx in 1998 at age 18
Rowasa morning and night, Asacol 2x4
Allergic to Sulfasalzine
Now I take no meds or supplements (but some asacol on-hand if I feel a flare-up coming on)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 985
   Posted 8/8/2009 1:09 PM (GMT -6)   
I've had problems with it for the past couple of years. Women are prone to it anyway, so you could even get it and not be in a flare. My almost needed a transfusion and had no other health issues causing the anemia.
I would ask the doctor to give you a blood test.
26 year old female
Diagnosed with unspecified UC 11/08 by flex. sig. as I was pregnant at the time and did not want to be put under for a colonoscopy
Breastfeeding my baby boy (born 4/8/09)
Back up to 30mg Prednisone UGH, Prenatal vitamin, and Ferrous Sulfate twice a day
Was on Asacol (2400mg or 3600mg a day) for 6 months with no success
3 infusions of Remicade with no success, so next step is consultation with a surgeon
8/09 colonoscopy shows that the whole colon is affected

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 16736
   Posted 8/8/2009 1:36 PM (GMT -6)   
I think it could. If you're losing blood every day, even if it's not a ton of blood, I would imagine it could lead you to becoming anemic pretty quickly. I was in a "mild" flare and I think I became anemic early on. I had no energy at all and I was short of breath, I couldn't do anything active. It was awful. It only got worse when my flare went from mild to moderate. I lost about 15 pounds and felt terrible. I finally went to the doctor and she requested bloodwork which showed that I was extremely anemic, almost to the point of needing to be admitted to the hospital. I had to take a ton of iron pills, around 185mg a day. I have heard that the majority of iron is not absorbed so you have to take a lot to get the benefits. Now I buy 25mg pills and take 2-4 a day. I feel a million times better than I did. I am also on oral and rectal meds that have stopped the bleeding and that helps too. You should be taking your Asacol everyday for maintence. Don't just take it when you feel bad. You could also call your doctor and see about getting some rectal meds to help control this current flare. If you don't do anything, it could get worse and worse and be harder to control. Go get bloodwork done and find out if you're anemic. You could end up hospitalized if you ignore it for too long.
Diagnosed with mild proctitis in March 2007: Treated with Canasa (as needed)
December 08: Began treating with Asacol 400mg (9/day) + Canasa 2x/day - Anemic
May 09: Off Canasa, taking Asacol (9/day)
Back on Canasa every other night + Asacol (9/day) + Probiotics + Iron
Reducing to 6 Asacol/day + Canasa + Probiotics + Iron - So far so good!!! -SPOKE TOO SOON! Back to 9/day...

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 224
   Posted 8/9/2009 6:54 AM (GMT -6)   
Keep in mind that fatigue is often a manifestation of UC and not anemia related - so it could be that.

There are also different kinds of anemia depending upon the cause (iron deficiency or blood loss for example). The only experience I have had with anemia was due to blood loss from a flare. This lead to shortness of breath, difficulty doing things like climbing stairs, and a rapid heart beat.

As others have suggested, a blood test will help you determine if your fatigue is due to a form of anemia or something else.
Diagnosed with UC in 1990.
Current Meds: Sulfasalazine & Folic Acid.
Supplements: fish oil, flax oil, glucosamine, CoQ10, fiber, aloe vera juice, probiotics.
Other: Raw Milk for breakfast. Currently exploring a raw milk fast one day/week.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 5698
   Posted 8/9/2009 8:27 AM (GMT -6)   

How long have you been battling this flare?  It takes time to become anemic but if you have been ill, even moderately, it could happen.  For me it took about 2 years to become both anemic depleted of B-12.  I had a lot of bleeding in those 2 years so I wasn't surprised.  A simple CBC to check for both anemia and B-12 should be suggested.


dx proctitis in 1987
dx UC in 1991, was stable until 1998

1998 started prednisone, asacol, pentasa, nortriptylene, ativan, 6MP, rowasa enemas and suppositories, hydrocortisone enemas, tried the SCD diet, being a vegetarian, omega 3s, flax, pranic healing, yoga, acupuncture, probiotics

2000 lost all my B-12 stores and became anemic

2001 opted for j-pouch surgery- now living life med-free

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 191
   Posted 8/9/2009 11:12 AM (GMT -6)   
I've had many of the same symptoms listed above. I took a bunch of iron pills a day after realizing I was severely anemic. I don't know why they didn't IV it to me, because that would have helped quicker.

With mine, it was due to blood loss. For me, it didn't take very long because of the amount of blood I was losing. It hit me hard and fast. I was having to sit down or take a nap shortly after getting up for the day, after my shower, after going down the stairs. I didn't have enough energy to stand up and cook eggs. I was white as a ghost, it was scary. I had shallow breathing too.

Get your blood test done to figure it out. If you wait too long it only gets worse.
22 years old

Diagnosed with moderate/severe UC June 2007, I've had it since December 2006.

Haven't been on here in a while (finally graduated college).
Update as of 5/26/09 - Now taking Imuran 100mg/day.
2 Lialda/day.
Vitamins - Caltrate+D, iron, A, B12,
Flintstone Complete+iron, and aloe vera pills/juice.
At least I'm off the Entocort. =]

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 748
   Posted 8/9/2009 12:28 PM (GMT -6)   
I think it definitely could be. When I was hospitalized, my levels were way way down, and even after 2 blood tranfusions and an iron infusion, my hemolglobin level was only at a 9 (normal is 12-16 for adult women). I was on iron for months after getting the flare under control before my numbers crossed the threshold for normal and was given the ok to quit the iron.

I was EXHAUSTED. I couldn't do anything but lay in bed and go to the bathroom, and I looked like a ghost. I had been managing ok until AF came to visit, and that was just the last straw. There was no way I could avoid going to the hospital after that.

ITA with Laura-if you wait, it could get worse and QUICK.
34 years old, stay at home mom of 2 girls, ages 4 and 2.5
Diagnosed in 2007
Currently on:
Asacol 6pills/day
Biweekly injections for Humira clinical trial-going well so far!!
Back on Canasa temporarily because I took Biaxin for sinuses and started seeing streaks of blood again.
Also take multivitamins and milk thistle daily.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/9/2009 7:44 PM (GMT -6)   
I would definitely suggest going and getting a blood test. We thought my husband might be anemic for a while, but kind of ignored it (out of fear I suppose of what the doctor would say. He ended up needing 3 units of blood when we finally went and got his blood checked. Don't let it get that bad. Go get it checked out now just to be safe.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 130
   Posted 8/12/2009 9:41 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the advice. I do have an appointment with the doc in 2 days, so i will mention my tiredness to him then. It crazy, i slept for 12 hours the other night, but i was still exhausted the next day! The good thing is that i don't think i'm quite as bad as a few of the posts on here...i have 2 kids and I'm still able to pick them up and carry them around and stuff, so there's hope for me yet!

In any case, I will definitely ask my doctor about it. Thanks!
Ulcerative Colitis, dx in 1998 at age 18
Rowasa morning and night, Asacol 2x4
Allergic to Sulfasalzine
Now I take no meds or supplements (but some asacol on-hand if I feel a flare-up coming on)

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 8/13/2009 7:00 AM (GMT -6)   
My experience with anaemia is probably quite different to anyone else's. I was severely anaemic (2 µMol/L of Iron; the lower threshold of normal is 9 µMol/L) when intially diagnosed with UC, and required an iron infusion. I took 2 Ferro Grad C iron tablets a day for the next 2 months, and then my iron levels were too high! I was then directed to stop taking the iron tablets. Two months later, at a review iron test, I had dropped again to 3 µMol/L, well below normal, even though I was in remission. It was due to a polyp that I had biopsied, but not removed, on my initial colonoscopy - but I was not passing visible blood in my bm's.

The weird thing was... I felt no better or worse when my iron levels were super low vs when they were normal or too high! I remember my doctor telling me I'd feel great within a few weeks of the iron infusion, but I didn't feel any different (neither better nor worse). I had no idea that was I anaemic again when my iron levels dropped. Maybe I just can't feel any difference?

Elite Member

Date Joined May 2003
Total Posts : 31006
   Posted 8/13/2009 1:28 PM (GMT -6)   
Plato...did you have your vitamin B12 and Vitamin D levels checked as well?
Could be part of the reason you're still having fatigue.

Are you eating enough throughout the day?

*Heather* Status: ...Asacol 3 twice daily; Salofalk enemas every 2nd night
~diagnosed January 1989 UC (proctosigmoiditis)
~UC meds: Asacol (3 @ 2x daily); Salofalk enemas nightly for flares & taper to maintenance 
~Bentylol (dicyclomine) 20mg as needed; Ranitidine (reflux);  Effexor XR 75mg(depression);  Pulmicort/Airomir (asthma) 
~vitamins/minerals/supplementsProbiotics....(RenewLife Ultimate Flora Critical Care + Primadophilus Reuteri). @ bedtime
~various digestive enzymes as needed
~URSO for PSC (or PBC) 500mg X 2 daily (LFTs back to NORMAL!!)
My doc's logic.. "TREAT (FROM)BOTH ENDS"  worth it !!!

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