Hypothyroidism and Iron: Anemia and Hemochromatosis

The Relationship Between Hypothyroidism and Iron Levels

anemia, hemochromatosis, thyroid problems, iron deficiency anemia
Jonathan Knowles / Getty Images

Two conditions related to iron levels in the blood—iron-deficiency anemia, and hemochromatosis— are more common with hypothyroidism than in the average population, according to researchers.

Iron-deficiency Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia (insufficient iron) is more common in people with an underactive thyroid. Symptoms and signs of anemia include:

  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Pale appearance to the lining of lower eyelids
  • Palpitations, fast or irregular heart beat.
  • Faintness and breathlessness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Bruising that occurs without reason
  • Dizziness
  • Long or unusually heavy menstrual periods

Anemia is diagnosed using a comprehensive iron panel blood test.

In addition to your doctor's recommendations regarding treatment for anemia and any suggested iron supplementation, you can also consider the following recommendations

  • Eat more foods that are good sources of iron.
  • Help your body absorb iron better by eating foods high in vitamin C.
  • Red meat can supply iron, but also helps your body absorb iron from other foods.
  • Limit your use of tea, except herbal teas.
  • Increase dietary fiber to prevent constipation.

Hemochromatosis

Hemochromatosis is rare, but is more common in people with hypothyroidism Symptoms of hemochromatosis include:

  • chronic fatigue
  • arthritis-like pain in joints, in particular, the middle two fingers
  • loss of libido (sex drive), impotence
  • early absence of menstrual periods
  • changes in skin color, yellowish, bronze, grey, olive
  • redness in the palms
  • abdominal pain
  • shortness of breath
  • heart arrhythmia
  • depression
  • elevated blood sugar

Hemochromatosis is not easy to diagnose, as it is not revealed in routine blood work so doctors need to request specific tests to diagnose it, including transferrin saturation (TS), serum ferritin level, and liver function tests, among others.

The hemochromatosis gene (HFE) test can also be used to test for hereditary hemochromatosis,

Treatment for hemochromatosis is a doctor-supervised program of giving blood, known as phlebotomy.

Continue Reading