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What is the Connection Between Anemia and Nausea?

By Laura Evans
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Oxygen is carried through the human body via the red blood cells in blood. Anemia is a medical condition that affects red blood cells, reducing the amount of oxygen circulating through the body. There are a number of types of anemia. The connection between anemia and nausea is that nausea is one of the symptoms of some forms of anemia including aplastic anemia and megaloblastic anemia. Megaloblastic anemia is also referred to as pernicious anemia. Folic acid deficiency can also lead to anemia and nausea.

Aplastic anemia is a blood disease that affects bone marrow. Bone marrow produces white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. This form of anemia causes the bone marrow to stop producing enough of all three of these important cell types. As a result, a person who has aplastic anemia does not have enough oxygen circulating via red blood cells, has a suppressed immune system because of insufficient numbers of white blood cells, and is slower to form blood clots because of lack of platelets.

In addition to the association of aplastic anemia and nausea, a person who has this form of anemia may have spontaneous bleeding, experience chills, or may have rapid heart beats. This disease is potentially fatal. Treatments for aplastic anemia include blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants and immunosuppressants.

The human body needs vitamin B12 in order to produce red blood cells. The body uses a substance called intrinsic factor, which is producing in the stomach lining, to help absorb this vitamin into the digestive tract. When a person is unable to produce sufficient intrinsic factor and absorb vitamin B12, the person can develop megaloblastic anemia.

In addition to nausea, symptoms of megaloplastic anemia include diarrhea, weight loss, and increased heart rate. A person with this blood disease may also experience loss of smell, lack of appetite, and confusion. Treatments include vitamin B12 injections or nasal sprays.

The body uses folic acid, or vitamin B9, to help red blood cells mature. If a person has insufficient folic acid intake, the person may also develop megaloblastic anemia. Others who may develop folic acid deficiencies include pregnant women, who need eight times the amount of vitamin B9 than they need when they are not pregnant, and alcoholics.

Beyond anemia and nausea, folic acid deficiency symptoms can include shortness of breath and vomiting. Folic acid deficiency can be treated by taking folic acid supplements. In addition, a person's diet may have to change to include more vitamin-B-rich foods such as spinach, tomato juice, melons, and bananas.

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Discussion Comments

By SteamLouis — On Apr 11, 2012

@burcidi-- Oh really?! I had no idea that stomach medicines could do that. I will have to tell my sister about that because I know she has been taking them.

My sister had pernicious anemia but doesn't any longer thankfully. We believe hers was related to Celiac disease which she does have. She had gone to the doctor because of fatigue and nausea and they found really low red blood cell levels. When she first told me that she has a fatal type of anemia, I almost had a heart attack.

But after her treatment, I realized that pernicious anemia doesn't have to be fatal and is usually isn't if it's caught in time and treated. She received shots to get her red blood cell levels up and it worked. She's absolutely fine now.

I know it could have been a lot worse if it hadn't been diagnosed for a long time. And I'm glad she looked out for anemia signs and went to the doctor quickly. Anemia symptoms and nausea should definitely be taken seriously. It might not turn out to be a big issue but either way, early diagnosis always helps.

By burcidi — On Apr 11, 2012

Nausea might not always be a result of the anemia and symptoms. For me, it has been the opposite. I had been using medications to reduce stomach acid for years because of acid reflux disease. I also had nausea and vomiting because of acid reflux for a long time. I was later diagnosed with anemia, but anemia was actually a result of my acid reflux and nausea and not the other way around.

It turns out that medications for stomach acid like proton pump inhibitors can inhibit the absorption of iron which leads to anemia in the long run. Nausea and vomiting also prevented me from eating as much as I should, so that probably contributed as well.

After I stopped taking proton pump inhibitors, my anemia is gone but I still have nausea related to excessive stomach acid.

By turquoise — On Apr 10, 2012

I had pregnancy anemia when I was pregnant with my son and nausea was the main symptom.

I didn't know then that anemia and pregnancy could be related. At first, I thought that I was experiencing nausea due to the pregnancy. But then I noticed that I was nauseated at all times of the day and not just in the mornings which is usually how pregnancy nausea is.

I went to the doctor who ran a blood test and diagnosed me with anemia. The treatment was really easy though. I took folic acid supplements throughout my pregnancy. The anemia disappeared in a few weeks after I started taking the supplements. The nausea went away too.

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