Ulcers and Anemia

ulcers and anemia

Stomach ulcers can lead to stomach pain. They can also lead to anemia — even if you don’t experience pain. Ulcers and anemia may seem like a surprising pair, but if you have iron deficiency anemia and you’re not sure why, an ulcer might be the culprit. 

What Causes Stomach Ulcers?

What’s the connection between ulcers and anemia?

A stomach ulcer is a sore in the lining of your stomach that doesn’t heal. There are two main types of ulcers: gastric ulcers, which occur in the stomach, and duodenal ulcers, which occur in the upper portion of the small intestine. The most common causes of ulcers are the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  Although stress and spicy foods may worsen symptoms, they do not cause ulcer formation. Ulcers can cause a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Anemia, on the other hand, is a condition in which the body lacks enough red blood cells or hemoglobin to transport oxygen throughout the body. There are several types of anemia, including iron-deficiency anemia, which is the most common type, and vitamin-deficiency anemia, which is caused by a lack of certain vitamins in the body. Anemia can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale skin, and cold hands and feet.

While ulcers and anemia may seem unrelated, there is actually a link between the two conditions. Ulcers can cause bleeding in the digestive tract. When blood is lost from the body, the number of red blood cells decreases, which can lead to anemia. This type of anemia may be the first sign of an ulcer.

Ulcer-related anemia

The symptoms of ulcer-related anemia are similar to those of other types of anemia and can include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and pale skin. However, there may also be additional symptoms related to the ulcer itself, such as abdominal pain and bloating. If left untreated, ulcer-related anemia can become severe and lead to more serious complications.

The treatment for ulcer-related anemia depends on the underlying cause of the ulcer. If the ulcer is caused by H. pylori, antibiotics may be prescribed to kill the bacteria. Other medications, such as proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers, can help to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, which can help the ulcer to heal. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the ulcer.

To treat the anemia caused by the ulcer, iron supplements may be prescribed to help the body produce more red blood cells. Vitamin supplements may also be recommended if the anemia is caused by a deficiency in certain vitamins. In some cases, blood transfusions may be necessary to replenish the lost blood.


Preventing ulcers and anemia involves making healthy lifestyle choices. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help to prevent both conditions. Quitting smoking and reducing stress can also help to combat ulcers. If you are at risk of developing an ulcer, it is important to avoid using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, as these medications can increase the risk of developing ulcers.

If you are experiencing symptoms of ulcers or anemia, it is important to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent serious complications and improve your overall health and well-being. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist for an upper GI endoscopy. Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and can help you to manage both conditions effectively.