Anaemia is a lack of the oxygen-carrying component of blood (haemoglobin). If severe, it cause tiredness, a lack of energy, shortage of breath and occasionally chest pain. Anaemia can have many causes ranging from problems in the production of blood to fragile blood cells and more commonly blood loss.  The most significant type of anaemia related to the gut is due to a lack of iron (iron deficiency anaemia).

Although iron is the commonest element in the earth’s crust iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is paradoxically the commonest nutritional deficiency affecting human beings. The human body has no means of excreting iron other than through the natural loss of ageing gut cells in stool and, in menstruating women, during monthly periodic bleeding. In a worldwide context nutritional and hookworm infestations are the most common causes underlying IDA. In the UK, however, except for individuals on strict vegetarian diets, unexplained IDA can indicate serious underlying gastrointestinal disease and requires careful assessment, investigation and treatment. Dr Iqbal is an expert on iron metabolism and, in Birmingham, we have various research projects dedicated to assessing the effect of iron excess/deficiency on the gut both at a basic scientific level and also in terms of clinical trials. We are investigating novel methods of treating iron deficiency and have developed local guidelines for the investigation of iron deficiency anaemia. If you have been found to have iron deficiency anaemia , the midland gut clinic consultants will be able to advise you on appropriate testing to identify or exclude any potentially serious cause.