Is Anemia Serious? Loss of Blood due to Unknown Causes

KerryTR73 Asked :

After weeks of feeling weak and tired and a couple of fainting spells, I discovered that I am severely anemic. I used to have anemia when I was in my teens and twenties but this stopped after having 2 kids and going on the injection. My doctor now tells me that he wants to do an endoscope and colon check to investigate the cause of the anemia.

Why is this necessary because many women that I know have anemia and it is usually not a problem? My doctor says that my anemia could be more serious and I am losing blood from somewhere since I do not menstruate. I am so tired of all these tests and I am wondering if it is necessary or should I just be on iron supplements?


This question was posted under the Blood Iron Levels – High, Abnormal, Low Iron in the Blood article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.


Dr. Chris Answered :

Anemia means that there is a shortage of healthy red blood cells. There are many different types of anemia due to a wide range of causes. The type of anemia that you probably had earlier in life, which is common among menstruating women, is iron-deficiency anemia. This is also referred to as hypochromic microcytic anemia and is an indication of chronic blood loss. What your doctor may have found now is another type of anemia known as normocytic normochronic anemia and this is often linked to bleeding within the gut or any other short term blood loss.

All types of anemia can be considered as a serious condition depending on the severity and cause. The red blood cells carry oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood so if this is severely impaired, you can experience a host of signs and symptoms with serious complications later on. More importantly, it could be due to a very serious cause, for example a bleeding tumor. You have not indicated what type of anemia that you have so for now we can only make assumptions about these types of anemia.

It is routine procedure to try to identify the cause of the bleed in normocytic normochromic anemia and as mentioned the gut is always suspected first. It could be gastric bleeding due to a stomach ulcer or there may be other possible causes that are a concern in your case. Then there are other types of anemia which may be due to a vitamin B12 deficiency since the body is not getting enough B12 or not absorbing or utilizing it properly and this could be linked to a number of gastrointentestinal conditions. In all likelihood though, it appears that your doctor is suspecting a recent gastrointestinal hemorrhage which is evident by normocytic normochromic anemia.

An upper GI endoscopy and colonoscopy are routine procedures to try to identify any pathology which could be causing the bleeding. There is nothing to be concerned about just yet. Once your doctor identifies the cause, he can begin with the appropriate treatment. Iron supplements are only helpful in cases where there is an iron deficiency as is the case with most menstruating women, especially if there is heavy menstrual bleeding. In these instances, the source of the blood loss is known. This may not be a consideration in your case since you are not having your period and your blood loss may be short term. The fact that you have fainted a few times is serious and if it is due to anemia, the cause has to be identified and treated as soon as possible. It needs immediate medical attention and the procedures that your doctor is considering is necessary.

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  • DAVID

    HAS ANYONE ELSE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH IRON DEFICEINCY, BUT IN THE BEGINNING STAGES OF GETTING IT DIAGNOSED HAD TO GET A BLOOD TRANSFUSION (4 BAGS) DUE TO MY BLOOD COUNT WAS SO LOW….MY HEMOGLOBIN WAS A MERE 5.3, & IM A 240LB. 6’2″ GUY… THEY DID ALL THE SCOPES, AND EVEN A PILL CAMERA STUDY, & FOUND NO SIGNS OF BLOOD LOSS WHATSOEVER? IF IM IRON DEFICIENT, WHY WAS I SO LOW ON BLOOD? WHERE DID IT GO?

  • Hi David. Anemia to this extent, when it is not due to any recent or current blood loss, can be what is known as anemia of chronic disease. In this type of anemia it is not a matter of losing blood but rather your body does not produce enough red blood cells. It can occur in a number of different chronic conditions. You may want to speak to your doctor about the exact cause of your anemia though.

    *Please put your caps lock off when posting comments.*

  • Barbara Johnson

    I have had so many blood transfusions that I’ve lost count. Probably 150 units of blood and still counting. I too have had the same problem for many years. They wanted to know if I was losing blood somewhere because a couple times a year I have to have blood transfusions to stay alive. They said it was because of stomach stapling over20years ago. But aside from that take the tests to be sure theirs no rumors. I’ve been through a lot to get my blood levels to stabilize over many years, but no luck. I’ve had iron injected into my buttocks z track. Painful. I’ve taken liquid iron. No luck. They gave me I.v. Iron and I went into shock. So my only option is to transfuse every two months or so but recently found out I have kidney disease which could of been avoided had the doctors who treated me for my back problem checked my medical chart and understanding that I was having an issue with my kidneys long ago thus them giving me toridol with my dilautin injections over 3years times has messed up my kidneys. So now I have 30% use of my kidneys maybe have to start dialysis in future. Take care of yourself and don’t let doctors give you meds or do tests that you feel aren’t necessary. Good luck and eat right and try to stay positive through all of this and trust me. It’s never easy.

  • – Frank

    Any updates to your condition? My brother had a similar issue and I’m trying to find answers. He is the same size guy (almost exactly!) and had massive blood loss – twice!

    The first time he reported to ER and they couldn’t believe he was able to walk/talk. He was in the ICU for two days and then two more in the hospital. I think he got 11 units of blood on the first visit. They ran colonoscopy and endoscopy with no findings.

    Six months later back to the ER with the same condition (no ICU this time just a couple of days in the hospital). I think it was 9 units of blood the second time. Different doctors (same hospital) ran colonoscopy and endoscopy again – no findings. Also, he was taking meds for ulcers and iron supplements per the docs on the first visit. So it happen again with meds and iron pills taken for about six months.

    We’re not sure what to do other than monitor the situation. But given the amount of blood loss in a one year period without any findings it doesn’t make any sense. No prior surgeries or medical issues at all. Healthy as horse until now.

  • Hi Frank. It may be a good idea for him to consult with a hematologist (blood specialist). While bleeding from the gut or bowels is a common cause for blood loss among men (apart from bleeding through a surface wound), sometimes the problem may be something else.Like his body may be destroying red blood cells for various reasons therefore leading to anemia. A hematologist will consider all these options and test for it.