My Gastric Bypass surgery has been a spectacular success…
- I have lost more than 45Kg (over 62 weeks) – am still losing weight
- I am now Non-Diabetic – My blood sugar (Hb1ac) levels are normal and I have had no diabetes medications since the day after surgery… in fact pretty much the ONLY “medication” I have had since surgery has been multivitamins
- My Liver function is perfect
- Almost all my Blood tests are normal (or better than normal)
Iron Deficiency & Anemia
The ONLY medial issue I have at the moment is low Iron levels (apparently) – which is actually a very common outcome following Bariatric surgery.
I have been taking Iron supplements (daily Maltofer tablets) however, because of the bypass surgery, it is not being properly absorbed.
Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. This leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells (because iron is needed to make hemoglobin – a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body). If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen and be able to work effectively.
Iron deficiency can therefore lead to anemia.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on the severity of the anemia, how quickly it develops, your age and current state of health. In some cases, people experience no symptoms.
Iron Deficiency Symptoms
Here are some signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, starting with the most common.
- Unusual Tiredness – Fatigue is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency. This is due to less oxygen reaching body tissues, depriving them of energy.
- Paleness in general or in specific areas such as the face, lower inner eyelid or nails may be a sign of moderate or severe iron deficiency. This is caused by lower levels of hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color.
- Shortness of breath is a symptom of iron deficiency, since low hemoglobin levels mean the body isn’t able to transport oxygen to muscles and tissues effectively.
- Headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency. The lack of hemoglobin means not enough oxygen reaches the brain, causing its blood vessels to swell and create pressure.
- Heart Palpitations – In cases of iron deficiency, the heart has to work extra hard to transport oxygen around the body. This can lead to irregular or fast heartbeats and even heart murmurs, an enlarged heart or heart failure.
- Restless Leg Syndrome – People with iron-deficiency anemia have a higher chance of experiencing restless leg syndrome. This is a strong urge to move the legs when at rest.
I am not really suffering from any of these symptons (that I am aware of), but my blood analysis, IS showing low iron levels.
Iron Deficiency Causes
Some of the common causes of iron deficiency in adults include:
- Inadequate dietary intake – there are two types of dietary iron, haem iron (found in animal tissue) and non-haem iron. The body absorbs haem iron much more easily than non-haem iron. There are many reasons why the dietary intake of iron could be inadequate, including a poorly balanced vegetarian diet, chronic fad dieting or limited access to a wide range of fresh foods – for example, as a result of living in remote areas or having a low income.
- Blood loss – iron deficiency easily occurs in situations of chronic blood loss. Common causes include heavy menstrual periods, regular blood donation, regular nosebleeds, chronic disorders that involve bleeding (such as peptic ulcers, polyps or cancers in the large intestine) and certain medications, particularly aspirin.
- Increased need – the adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy and breastfeeding are situations when the body requires more iron. If this increased need isn’t met, a deficiency can quickly occur.
- Exercise – athletes are prone to iron deficiency because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron in a number of ways. For example, hard training promotes red blood cell production, while iron is lost through sweating.
- Inability to absorb iron – healthy adults absorb about ten to 15 per cent of dietary iron, but some people’s bodies are unable to absorb or use iron from food.
For me absorption is likely to be the main issue (this is fairly common in Gastric Bypass Surgery)… but the exercise element may also play a part as I am doing quite a lot of gym sessions… (6 or 7 one hour sessions a week at the moment – plus fairly regular 5 or 10km walks)
Iron Deficiency Treatments
The main aim of treatment is to restore hemoglobin levels to normal and replenish iron stores. The most common treatments are to increase dietary intake of Iron rich foods, and Iron supplements
Eat Iron-Rich Foods
If your doctor thinks your iron deficiency may be caused by a lack of iron in your diet, consuming more iron-rich foods, such as the following may help :
- Red meat, pork and poultry
- Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale
- Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
- Peas, beans and other pulses
- Iron-fortified foods
- Seeds and nuts
Boost Your Iron Absorption
Eating vitamin C will help your body absorb iron better, so eating enough vitamin C-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables can help with absorption.
It may also be beneficial to avoid certain foods that can inhibit iron absorption when eaten in large amounts. These include tea and coffee and foods high in calcium such as dairy products and whole-grain cereals.
If increasing iron levels through diet alone is not working, then it may be necessary to take iron supplements – which sometimes may have unpleasant side effects such as stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and black stools. .
As I have pretty much tried (and failed at) the above treatments – primarily because the Gastric Bypass operation restricts the absorption of Iron, my next course of action is an Iron Infusion
Iron infusion is a procedure in which iron is delivered to your body intravenously (i.e. into a vein through a needle).
An iron infusion is a way to increase the body’s iron levels quickly. It’s a more immediate treatment than supplements or dietary changes.
Burst of Energy ??
Apparently, Iron Infusion will give me a Burst of Energy… which is pretty hard for me to imagine because I don’t at the moment feel lacking in energy (6 or 7 gym sessions a week doesn’t say “low energy” to me…) but I am very curious to see the outcomes 🙂