GI Health | Anemia
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Information and Diagnosis

What is Anemia?

Anemia is when the red blood cell counts are lower than they should be. Anemia can occur rapidly when there is a sudden loss of blood or can be the result of small amounts of blood lost over a longer period of time. Often, the source of this blood loss can be from the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or colon (large intestine). This is often seen as vomiting blood or rectal bleeding. Patients may feel dizzy because their blood pressure drops, especially when standing up. Anemia can also occur from chronic blood loss from the GI tract. Symptoms are more subtle and progressive and this often leads to iron deficiency.

Symptoms

Pale skin
Dizziness
Chronic lack of energy
Shortness of breath

Diagnosis

Your GI doctor will likely start with blood tests to measure the hemoglobin levels in your red blood cells. If hemoglobin is deficient, an endoscopy, capsule endoscopy or colonoscopy may be ordered to locate the source of the bleeding.

Treatment

Treatment for anemia includes:

Iron supplements
Iron infusions, given by injection, for more severe cases of iron deficiency anemia
Vitamin B12 infusions
Stricter diet and nutrition management
EGD/colonoscopy and small bowel capsule endoscopy can locate and stop the source of bleeding. These tests are also used to ensure that there is no underlying cancer as the cause of bleeding

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