Tips for Managing When Rheumatoid Arthritis and Anemia Co-Exist


Protecting Against Blood Deficiencies

Luckily, there is plenty you can do to protect and treat anemia while you manage your RA. Before you choose an approach, your doctor must confirm the specific type of anemia that’s to blame, and then you can begin to restore the vitamin and mineral balance in your body:

Vitamin B12 Therapy

RA patients with anemia require more B12 than the average person, and since vitamin B12 is only naturally found in animal products (eggs, dairy, and meat), it can be difficult to get the amount you need through diet alone. Instead, you can supplement your healthy diet with an oral B12 vitamin or an intramuscular injection.

If you have been diagnosed with pernicious anemia, you’ll likely be given B12 in the form of an oral supplement or a gel to apply inside your nose. While B12 injections have been found to help in some cases of joint pain, a B complex vitamin may be a better solution, since it includes vitamin B6, which has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers for RA.

In any case, it’s important to remember that too much B12 can bring side effects, or interact with certain treatment and medication, so you should never stray from your doctor’s prescription.

Iron Supplements

If NSAIDs have damaged your stomach lining or DMARDs have suppressed your liver function, you may be tempted to stop the medication. However, the medication you use for your RA controls your inflammation, and that’s a very important part of your disease management.

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A healthier way to counter anemia brought on by an iron deficiency is with an iron supplement. Readily available in pill form, iron supplements can return your iron stores to normal levels.

However, you must be careful not to overdo it: too much iron can cause digestive troubles, negatively interact with anti-inflammatory medications, or even lead to a medical emergency. Once you restore your iron to a healthy level, pay more attention to upping your dietary sources to reduce the chances of overdose.

Better RA Treatment

Perhaps the best way to beat anemia is to focus more closely on your daily RA management. That means you may need to adjust medications or routine, and be open to making certain lifestyle changes to help your body handle the inflammatory attacks more easily.

First, take a look at your physical activity. If something is preventing you from getting daily exercise – which is important to maintain muscle strength, improve flexibility, and fight stiffness – you need to find a way to change it. Next, revisit your medication regime with your doctor to see if your drugs or dosages need to be adjusted. In many cases, reducing inflammation is the most direct way to alleviating the symptoms of anemia in RA patients, and that will come with the right medication.

Given the uncomfortable consequences of RA and anemia, you need to take special precaution to ensure your blood cell production stays at a healthy level. The better you can manage your blood health, the more energy and focus you’ll have to battle your RA.

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