Anaemia and osteoporosis
Surgery to the stomach may reduce your ability to absorb some vitamins and minerals from food. This may lead to low levels of:
- calcium – Over time, your bones may become weak and brittle, and break more easily (osteoporosis), which may cause pain. Talk to your doctor and dietitian about ways to look out for and treat osteoporosis.
- vitamin B12 – This can cause a condition called pernicious anaemia. The most common early symptom of anaemia is tiredness. Your skin will look pale and you may feel breathless, get headaches, have a racing heart and lose your appetite. You will need regular vitamin B12 injections.
- iron – This can cause iron deficiency anaemia. You may need iron supplements, which are usually given as a tablet or liquid you swallow.
Tips for managing anaemia
- Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of anaemia.
- Find out what kind of anaemia you have and how to treat it.
- Rest when you need to and don’t overexert yourself.
- Limit tea and coffee, as these can prevent iron absorption.
- Ask your GP or dietitian if you need iron or other supplements, and whether certain foods can help.
- Eat foods rich in iron, such as meat, eggs and softened dark green leafy vegetables.
- Eat foods high in vitamin C (e.g. red or orange fruits and vegetables) in the same meal as iron-rich foods. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.
- If you smoke, talk to your GP about quitting or call the Quitline on 13 7848 for support and information. Tobacco can worsen your symptoms.
Prof David Watson, Senior Consultant Surgeon, Oesophago-gastric Surgery Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, and Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Flinders University, SA; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gastrointestinal Cancers, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Christine Froude, Consumer; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dr Spiro Raftopoulos, Interventional Endoscopist and Consultant Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Grant Wilson, Consumer; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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