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H pylori and Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA)

How H pylori Causes Fatigue and Iron Deficiency Anemia

If I said the following statement, would you be surprised?

“H pylori infection causes fatigue, lethargy, depression, sore tongue, pale complexion, shortness of breath, headaches, concentration problems, brittle headedness, lightheadedness and more…”

How could a stomach infection like H pylori cause these weird symptoms?

That’s the question I’d like to answer for you in this article, and it involves the relationship between H pylori and iron deficiency anemia.

When her energy levels a few weeks after eradicating H pylori, a client of mine, Mel, asked me why a stomach infection like H pylori would cause a symptom like fatigue.

Mel had been feeling really tired as well as having a poorly tummy.

I replied by saying that H pylori can cause a drop in stomach acid level and that when this happens, it’s hard to digest food properly.

Stomach acid is needed to release minerals from food, so when stomach acid levels drop because of H pylori, minerals like iron can’t be released from food and enter the body.

This is the principle linking H pylori and iron deficiency anemia.

Medicine knows about H pylori and Iron Deficiency Anemia

I get irritated when doctors say H pylori is harmless. Even when it doesn’t cause obvious digestive symptoms, it still has the potential to cause other problems.

Your doctor probably doesn’t realise that it’s firmly established that H pylori causes iron deficiency in both adults and children.

The relationship between H pylori and iron deficiency anemia is strong and well known in research quarters, but it’s not generally recognised by doctors who are treating patients.

Here’s the evidence… The 2012 Maastricht Consensus clearly states:

The association of H pylori and iron deficiency anemia has been conclusively proved in adult and paediatric populations. Two separate meta-analyses in recent years have supported this association, with one illustrating a clear link between H pylori and iron-deficiency anemia1 and the other showing that H pylori eradication increases haemoglobin levels in these patients.”

The source of this information is one of the leading Helicobacter research organisations in the world, led by Peter Malfertheiner, M.D. – it’s not just me having a rant.

The research findings have significant implications for people who feel tired, weak, low or lethargic for no apparent reason and who might not be assessed properly because a doctor may not know the associations between H pylori and iron deficiency anemia.

What does the medical system have to say about H pylori and iron deficiency anemia?

If we look at the symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia listed at the NHS and Pubmed websites – both authoritarian medical sites – we see the following complaints:

  • Feeling grumpy
  • Feeling weak or tired more often than usual, or with exercise
  • Headaches
  • Problems concentrating or thinking

Interesting, huh?

Given that we know there’s a strong link between H pylori and iron deficiency anemia, we can actually state with a fair degree of confidence that the symptoms above can actually be caused by H pylori knocking down iron levels.

Why aren’t these ailments listed on medical sites next to “H Pylori Symptoms”?

Don’t you think it’s interesting that the above symptoms are NEVER listed next to H pylori, yet we have clear evidence from the scientific literature of the strong association between H pylori and iron deficiency anemia?

Well, it gets worse.

The Pubmed website goes on to state, “As the anemia gets worse, symptoms may include:”

  • Blue color to the whites of the eyes
  • Brittle nails
  • Light-headedness when you stand up
  • Pale skin color
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore tongue

So now we see a further list of weird symptoms that can result from iron deficiency anemia.

But again, we don’t see these chronic ailments listed next to H pylori on ANY medical site.

Furthermore, few doctors associate any of these symptoms with H pylori.

H pylori and iron deficiency anemia can creep up on you

Importantly, H Pylori and iron deficiency can develop without you feeling the usual H pylori symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, nausea and vomiting.

This is one of the reasons H pylori is such a menace.

It can sit in your stomach where it gradually reduces acid levels by damaging your stomach lining and cells that product stomach acid.

As your stomach acid levels drop, you can’t digest food effectively.

When this happens, iron absorption decreases, gradually leading to anemia.

You can begin to feel tired, lethargic, listless or any of the symptoms listed above without any clue that you have a stomach infection.

Because most doctors don’t associate H pylori with these symptoms they tell you about it, and also won’t think to test for H pylori.

But a little common sense, along with an understanding of the link between H pylori and iron deficiency anemia points to making sure you get properly tested for H pylori.

Getting more iron into your body.

Because this is quite a long article, I’ve created a separate blog post detailing my tips for optimising your iron content.

Some foods high in iron include beef, liver, chicken thighs, oysters, prawn/shrimp, dark green leafy vegetables, potatoes, certain nuts.

It’s important to understand that iron deficiency anemia is not the only form of anemia.

Copper deficiency, and vitamim B12 deficiencies can also cause types of anemia.

All this is addressed in a separate blog post, which you can read by clicking here.

Be aware that restoring your iron levels (or copper and B12) is not as simple as just taking supplements.

I ALWAYS recommend a thorough set of testing to check digestive function before using supplements – it’s much better to get your diet and digestion optimised before considering specific supplements.

You are not suffering from an iron supplement deficiency, after all.

Also be aware that the types of iron supplements used in the medical system are not as high in quality as the ones we typically recommend to our clients, and please monitor your iron levels closely if you do choose to take iron supplement.

Do you suspect a link between H pylori and anemia?

If you know you have iron deficiency anemia, I recommend you get tested for H pylori as soon as possible.

If your doctor won’t run an H pylori test for you, we offer a cutting edge, yet simple stool test to help you check for H pylori and MUCH more.

Getting rid of H pylori may not improve your anemia, energy levels, mood, etc. because you have to replenish the lost nutrients.

This can take time and you have to eat a diet full of nutrient-dense foods.

If you’d like help with this, I invite you to read my H Pylori Diet book and H Pylori Diet Recipe and Cookbook.

These resources will help you implement a healthy nutrition programme that, in itself, can vastly improve the way you feel.

You will also learn how to eradicate H pylori using a herbal protocol, the same one that I personally used to defeat H pylori.

Well, that’s it for this post – I hope it’s been useful and look forward to sharing more with you soon.



PS – we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below if you’re having trouble with anemia, or if you’re having difficulty with H pylori.

Additional References

Qu X.H, Does Helicobacter pylori infection play a role in iron deficiency anemia? A meta-analysis. World J Gastroenterol 2010;16:886–96.

Muhsen K & Cohen D. Helicobacter pylori infection and iron stores: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Helicobacter 2008;13:323–40.



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