Osteoarthritis & Iron Deficiency Anemia – Things You Shouldn’t Ignore

Osteoarthritis and Iron Deficiency Anemia
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

Osteoarthritis and iron deficiency Anemia are two conditions that seem wide apart yet they may be interrelated. OA affect the joints or is a condition where the cartilage in between joints degenerates. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition of the blood where the patient has a low count of red blood cells. From a study that was conducted by eHealthMe, out of the 14158 people with OA, who were interviewed, 91 of them had iron deficiency anemia. From that number 91, 89% of them were above the age of 60. This raises the question of whether age is a risk factor of both OA and iron deficiency anemia or one causes the other.

About Iron

See Also: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis And Anemia Really Connected?

About Iron Deficiency Anemia

When a person suffers from iron deficiency anemia, the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin in his/her blood is less than required. Red blood cells are in charge of gas transportation throughout the body. Through the lungs lining, red blood cells release carbon dioxide from the body into the that which is then exhaled. They also take up oxygen and carry it to the rest of the body. The oxygen is a vital component for the breakdown of food into energy. Across the globe, iron deficiency anemia is the most common.

Causes of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Going with the statistics from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, iron deficiency tops the list of deficiency diseases in the American population. It is also stated as the highest cause of anemia among the people.

Less Iron in the Diet

When people consume less iron in their diet for an extended period of time, they are at risk of getting iron deficiency anemia. Foods that contain iron include meat, fish, eggs and green leafy vegetables. Iron is an essential requirement for growth and development which is why it should be taken in higher amounts by pregnant mothers and the young at age.

Related: Anemia During Pregnancy

Bleeding Internally

Bleeding Internally

Some health condition makes one to bleed in their internal organs. Stomach ulcers, tissue growths in the intestines or even colon cancer are some of the conditions that see the patient bleeding internally. Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs taken to relief pain are known to cause ulcers that are a sure way of losing blood.

Heavy Menses

Some women and girls have extra ordinarily heavy periods that place them at a risk of getting iron deficiency anemia.

Unable to Absorb Iron

Sometimes you may take adequate iron in your diet but the body fails to absorb it into the bloodstream. Some conditions like Celiac disease or surgery of the small intestine tends to decrease* the quantity of iron absorbed into the blood.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Risk Factors of Iron Deficiency Anemia

  • Middle age and pregnant women
  • Vegetarians
  • People with less iron in their diet
  • The elderly

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Unless identified in a routine blood test, most people will suffer iron deficiency anemia without their knowledge, and they can move around with it for many days if it is mild.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Symptoms may vary from:

  • General body weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Short breaths
  • Tingling feeling on the feet
  • Crave for things like clay, ice or dirt
  • Diagnosing Iron Deficiency Anemia

A Complete Blood Count is conducted and your doctor determines if you suffer anemia. Further tests may be done to determine whether it may be resulting from other body organs like the liver, kidney or thyroid.

Treating Iron Deficiency Anemia

An increased intake of iron-rich foods will help to cover the deficit of iron in your body. Do not take supplements without prior consultation with your physician. Remember taking excess of them is harmful and may bring more complications to your body like headaches, vomiting and joint problems. Each formulation of iron supplements may come with its package of side effects. To suppress* side effects, take the supplements alongside meals.

About Osteoarthritis

This is a disease of the joints which is characterized by the wearing and tearing of the cartilage that cushions joints. More than 20 million Americans suffer this condition.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
  • This condition is restricted to the joints and does not spread to other body organs.
  • The main symptom is swelling and pain in the affected joint.
  • Stiffness of the joints after resting that goes after you become active again.
  • Soreness and pain in joints which is at its highest when one is most active.

The early stages of OA are characterized by mild pain which is periodical. The pain at this stage may not interfere with one’s daily chores. Some people stay in this stage for a life time and the condition never progresses. Others will see the severe progression of the disease. Age and body weight are the main factors that catalyze the severity of this disease. The condition is not reversible through measures can be taken to help one cope with the pain and discomfort. The main drugs used are anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which help to relief the pain. Therapy measures like exercises are good too to ease the pain. When the condition has progressed beyond medication response, surgery may be a better option.

Related: 6.5 Million American To Acquire Knee Osteoarthritis By Year 2020

About Osteoarthritis Medication and Anemia

Most of the people who suffer OA are placed on NSAIDs almost their entire lives. NSAIDs have been known to cause peptic ulcers. Ulcers in turn are a risk factor for anemia. Bleeding internally may lead one to develop anemia. NSAIDs cause damage to the stomach lining, but this depends with the dosage prescribed. When an OA patient develops anemia caused by ulcers, getting advice from the doctor may be the best thing to do. He may advice on the diet to take and even decide on a change of drugs. Ulcers develop over a duration of time and it is wise to consult your physician when you notice its symptoms. Some of the NSAIDs drugs used to treat* OA include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and declofenac. Not all people develop ulcers as a side effect of taking NSAIDs.

Take Action: Support Consumer Health Digest by linking to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (Click to copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite ConsumerHealthDigest.com with clickable link.


Expert Author : Beth Solomon (Consumer Health Digest)

Beth Solomon has been writing articles on health for more than two years with a concentration on pain management and men’s and women’s health and fitness. She has been a contributing editor to Consumer Health Digest since 2013.

View All