Asthma UK community forum

Asthma and B12 or Iron Anaemia

Recently I was found to be severly iron anaemic and very low in B12. I know a couple of other asthmatics who have one or both of these who dont use the forum and was wondering if there are many others out there who have both complaints. Asthma and iron aneamia or B12 deficency (Pernicious anaemia)?

My reason for asking is if there is any link, say with the drugs we take or side effects etc?

Any opinions/ views etc would be most welcome.

15 Replies



I don't know of a link between iron deficiency- or B12 deficiency anaemia and asthma, and a quick Medline search doesn't seem to turn anything up.

The only thing I can think of is that if you were restricting your diet dramatically because of allergies, that might contribute to iron deficiency anaemia.

In terms of drugs, heavy duty immunosupressants such as methotrexate and ciclosporin, used as steroid sparing agents, can sometimes make people anaemic, but not by causing iron or B12 deficiency. Long term prednisolone in combination with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can increase the risk of stomach ulcers which can bleed and cause iron-deficiency anaemia but you'd probably know about it if you had a bleeding ulcer!

Obviously being anaemic is going to contribute to symptoms of breathlessness, which won't be relieved by asthma medication.

Other than that I can't think of any connection, sorry not to be more helpful!

Take care,

Em H


Thanks Emily.

I certainly can relate to the breatlessness but then my Hb was very low when they did idscover it and I had sort of worked out it was not asthma but thought it may be to do with my brochiectasis.


hi speedy

i had both low ironand b12 amongst othr things all the time before i ended up incosta last year. but couldbe due to othr problems too. just thuoght i'd let yuo know anyway. i hope you are ok ... havebeen thnking of you a lot.







i have also been anaemic and was investigated, with no cause found but my theory is when in costa so much they keep taking blood out for tests so if this is happening lots it is no surprise we can get anaemic, i also was found to have b12 deficiancy and no cause, they give me the injection every 3 months and as far as i know it will be for life but is no big deal.

hope this is helpful.

George x


This week when I got my blood results I was found to be severly iron anaemic!

GP said the type I have is usually due to stomach bleeding and was down to the steroids!

I have ulcers anyway but steroid tabs make em bleed!

And bar having severe indigestion type pain (which was normal for me anyway) I didnt know there was a problem with tummy and I am on esomeprazole anyway!

Got mega doses of iron tabs but am struggling major to take them as they upset tummy and make me throw up!

I think the only link to asthma is some medicine side effects lead us to be more prone to it, ie, meds making us feel sick hence we dont eat right then get anaemic!


In the midst of revision and stumbled across anaemia and thought I had the perfect explanation for it. However, not sure now as would only work if you had secondary anaemia.

Anyone feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

There are 3 main types of anaemia dependent on the appearance of your red cells:

1) Iron deficiency anaemia (small, pale red cells)

2) B12/folate defeiciency anaemia (large red cells)

3) Secondary or anaemia of chronic disease (normal-sized red cells)

The third occurs in patients with chronic inflammatory or infectious disease but according to my paperwork B12 levels are norm. The anaemia is caused by the suppressive effect of inflammatory cytokines on red cell production. However, Speedy you have low B12 levels so obv have B12 deficiency anaemia not this type.

So I conclude after getting v excited that I am of no help at all LOL! Back to revision.

Hope you get some answers soon.

Emily x


emily, you may be on the right lines!

As you have said there are different causes of anaemia - the ones you listed and some more too (I learned them by rote in 3rd year and can still churn a list out!)

Anaemia of chronic disease can look like an iron deficiency picture.

Steroids can make you bleed from your gut - and sometimes it is subtle and you aren't aware of it, so that may contribute quite a lot.

Allergies make some of us restrict our diets substantially - and a lack of iron from red meat, lentils, leafy veg etc is made worse by low vitamin c intake - vit c increases your absorption of iron from the gut.

Anaemia due to a low B12 is often due to an autoimmune process - and asthma is an immune problem, so may be related in some way, although it is not an autoimmune disease.

Having looked at all the other drugs most of us are likely to be on, the only ones likely to affect B12 and folate (the other vitamin type thing we need to make blood cells) are the immunosuppressants - methotrexate and the like.

I know of at least one other person who has brittle asthma and is anaemic - in her case B12/folate and iron.



I pleased to see people replying. I do think Emily you may be onto something like Owl says.

I know I have allergies which restrict my diet. Cant have eggs and I have IBS so cant really have much dairy although I do eat a lot of meat and fresh veg and fruit.

The normal tests when you become anaemic seems to be enoscopy and colonoscopy to rule out any slow bleeds, chrons celiacs. Also I have had lot of bloods to check for antibodies for all sorts of things.

Thinking most asthmatics are on pred this could be a link but then a lot of asthmatics cant take anti inflammatories nor aspirin which are a classic for casuing bleeds and ulcers.

I thought it was an interesting topic just to see how many of us have had problem and views of other people.


Thanks Owl...start 3rd yr next month. Hopefully that list will fall into place neatly in my piece of sponge between my ears!

Speedy...this is all quite interesting I have to say. WIll do some more research into it when my exam is out the way (its on wed).


Good luck for Wednesday Emily will be thinking of you


Hi Speedy, with reference to your recent pm. I have posted some info on a new thread titled Iron-deficiency and Asthma under medical.

Take hair,



Hey Speedy,

This thread has been very helpful to me. I'm due at RBH next month for investigations into brittle asthma (my current diagnosis is intersitital lung disease, they think I may have developed brittle asthma as well as). Out of the blue last year I was diagnosed with pernicious anaemia at RBH, it took me a long time to get my B12 levels up and I'm now on regular B12 injections as well as folic acid and ferrous sulphate. They tried to trace it back through my family as it can be genetic and in someone my age the chances of that are quite high they but didn't have much luck When owl said she knows someone with pernicious anaemia and brittle asthma it made me shiver.

Oh I've just read this thread is quite old, I must of missed it, I have struggled to find information on any links between BA and pernicious anaemia.

Tks xxx


interesting to read your posts on Iron and B12 deficiency, recently bought a bottle of floridix on a friends recomendation, this really did give me a pick up.

I think Asthma has a considerable effect on your whole body, as your trying to work against the odds, and this leaves you feeling like you've run a marothon at a high altitude.

I would be interested in studies on this, information on asthma and work seems to focus on triggers.


Wow! this is really interesting, and mostly because earlier this week i was at the hospital for ashtma and then the doctors randomly (im sure they had their reasons) thought that i might be anemic, so in may im going in for blood tests. I know very little about anemia though, but this has certainly helped.


hiya i dont no much about this but my son is 3 he is asthmatic and is reciveing treament with his brown and blue pump while taking singulair, now he also has low iron and suffered with it a year ago and was put on a iron supplement, me and my son have a hosptial appointment tomorrow for a full blood count to check his iron leves to , so i also have been confused also on the same subject as u, let me no when you get some answeres,


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