PBC Foundation

Cirhossis, black stools and iron tablets

Has anyone had a varise bleed and prduced black stools....I did and was then in hospital. Problem is I am anaemic and gp wants me to take iron tablets which ....produces black stools!nThis will be scary as it will be a shock all the time..shether it is blood or iron..also I read that iron suplements are not good for liver. In the past before PBC i was often a bit sick when I had iron in amulti vitamin. Any ideas? Thx

4 Replies

I am vegetarian and take "iron for women" and have done so for many years. I am fine on it, in fact without it my energy levels are much lower and I have had anaemia in the past. My consultant says there is no problem. However, if you eat meat then you should be having enough iron. I believe too much iron can be as bad as not enough. A healthy meat eating diet should be enough though, if like me and don't eat meat, then a supplement might be necessary.

Take care x


Thank you...do you get concerned over the stool colour issue?


Hello Valmanning.

I have no experience with PBC and varices bleeding (I do not have varices that I know of) but now you have been investigated I expect you are taking the iron to counteract the recent bleeding as no doubt a blood test would have shown that you were anaemic.

Being anaemic with iron deficiency can make you tired and in PBC we can be fatigued (or tired in my case due to night time itching and broken sleep) and of course we need iron for good blood production. I have in the past on a few occasions had anaemia but not severe that it caused me any symptons. I only took short courses of high dose iron tablets.

Yes they do make the stools black. You should be monitored with blood tests at intervals to check the iron (or ferritin as it is known) and might be a case of a short course will suffice to replace what you lost due to the varices and bring your levels up adequately. Also it will more than likely be known judging by the blood readings if taking the iron is helping. I'm not a doctor but I think you might be asked to take in stool samples for testing.

I am not sure about liver and iron but I do know that if we are short we are probably more at risk of other things than acquiring possible liver damage. The liver stores iron and we do need an adequate supply.

I do not eat a lot of red meat myself but there is iron present in licorice for eg and broccoli is apparently rich as is beetroot. I bought some years ago cast iron frypans very cheaply and use these for cooking certain foods. Tomatoes are reputed to be good to use in a cast iron pan as the acidic nature of the tomatoes reacts with the pan and then iron absorbs into the tomatoes so we can get iron that way.


Thanks for your reply........my real problem will be distinguishing between iron black stool and the bleed black stool for which I was sent as emergency to a and e...i did have a blood transfusion but still not enough to help the cells.

I suspect you are fine as I dont think you have cirrhosis...the varises usually come with this.


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