Iron Therapy in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Nutrients. 2020 Nov 12;12(11):E3478. doi: 10.3390/nu12113478.

Aditi Kumar 1, Matthew J Brookes 1 2


Author information

  • 1The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Wolverhampton WV10 0QP, UK.
  • 2Research Institute in Healthcare Science (RIHS), University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton WV1 1LY, UK.


The most common complication seen in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients is iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). Symptoms such as chronic fatigue can be as debilitating to IBD patients as pathological symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Recognising and correcting anaemia may be as important as managing IBD symptoms and improving overall quality of life. Thus, iron replacement should be commenced the moment IDA is identified. Although intravenous iron is now considered standard treatment for IBD patients in Europe, oral iron still appears to be the preferred option. Advantages of oral iron include greater availability, lower costs and ease of applicability. However, its multitude of side effects, impact on the microbiome and further exacerbating IBD activity can have consequences on patient compliance. The newer oral iron formulations show promising safety and efficacy data with a good side effect profile. Intravenous iron formulations bypass the gastrointestinal tract absorption thereby leading to less side effects. Multiple studies have shown its superiority compared to oral formulations although its risk for hypersensitivity reactions continue to lead to clinician hesitancy in prescribing this formulation. This article provides an updated review on diagnosis and management of IDA in IBD patients, discussing the newer oral and intravenous formulations.

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