What does anemia do?

How Is Anemia Diagnosed?

  • About
    • Our Mission
    • Our History
    • Virtual Tour
    • Accreditations & Awards
    • Testimonials
  • Your Team
    • Doctors
    • Nurse Practitioners & Physician Assistants
  • Our Services
    • Medical Oncology
      • Chemotherapy
      • Biological and Immunotherapy
      • Hormone Therapy
      • Genetic Risk Screening
    • Radiation Oncology
      • CyberKnife / Advanced Technology
    • Hematology
    • Cancer Rehab
    • Clinical Trials
    • Diagnostic Services
      • Diagnostic Imaging
      • Laboratory
    • Nutrition
    • Palliative Care Services
    • Medication Services
    • Social Work
    • Survivorship
    • Wellness
      • Yoga
      • Tai Chi
      • Integrative Therapies
      • Calendar
  • Patient Resources
    • New Patient Information
      • Your First Visit – What To Expect
      • How / When To Contact Us
      • Patient Portal
      • What to Bring
    • Billing Insurance Information
      • Participating Insurances
    • What is Cancer?
    • Types of Cancer
      • Acute Myeloid Leukemia
      • Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
      • Anal Cancer
      • Bladder Cancer
      • Breast Cancer
      • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
      • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
      • Colon Cancer
      • Endometrial Cancer
      • Esophageal Cancer
      • Gallbladder Cancer
      • Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors
      • Hodgkin Lymphoma
      • Kidney (renal cell) Cancer
      • Liver Cancer
      • Melanoma
      • Multiple Myeloma
      • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
      • Non-small cell Lung Cancer
      • Ovarian / Fallopian Tube Cancers
      • Pancreatic Cancer
      • Prostate Cancer
      • Rectal Cancer
      • Small Cell Lung Cancer
      • Soft Tissue Sarcoma
      • Testicular Cancer
    • Supportive Symptom Management
    • Blood Disorders
      • Anemia
        • Other Names for Anemia
        • Who is at Risk?
        • Signs and Symptoms
        • How is Anemia Diagnosed?
        • How is Anemia Treated?
        • How Can Anemia Be Prevented?
        • Living with Anemia
        • Clinical Trials
      • Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome
        • Other Names for Antiphospholipid
        • Who is at Risk for Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome?
        • What are the Signs and Symptoms of Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome?
        • How is Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome Diagnosed?
        • How is Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome Treated?
        • Living with Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome
      • Aplastic Anemia
        • What Causes Aplastic Anemia?
        • Who is at Risk for Aplastic Anemia?
        • What are the Signs and Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia?
        • How is Aplastic Anemia Diagnosed?
        • How is Aplastic Anemia Treated?
        • Living with Aplastic Anemia
      • Deep Vein Thrombosis
        • Other Names for Deep Vein Thrombosis
        • What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
        • Screening and Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis
        • Who is at Risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
        • Diagnosing Deep Vein Thrombosis?
        • Treating Deep Vein Thrombosis
        • Living with Deep Vein Thrombosis
      • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
        • How is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation Diagnosed?
        • Other Names for Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
        • What Causes Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation?
        • Who is at Risk for Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation?
        • What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation?
        • How is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation Treated?
        • Living With Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
      • Fanconi Anemia
        • What Causes Fanconi Anemia?
        • Who is at Risk for Fanconi Anemia?
        • What are the signs and Symptoms of Fanconi Anemia?
        • How is Fanconi Anemia Diagnosed?
        • How is Fanconi Anemia Treated?
        • How Can Fanconi Anemia Be Prevented?
        • Living With Fanconi Anemia
      • Hemochromatosis
        • Other Names for Hemochromatosis
        • What Causes Hemochromatosis?
        • Who is at Risk for Hemochromatosis?
        • What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hemochromatosis?
        • How is Hemochromatosis Diagnosed?
        • How is Hemochromatosis Treated?
        • How Can Hemochromatosis Be Prevented?
        • Living With Hemochromatosis
      • Hemolytic Anemia
        • Other Names for Hemolytic Anemia
        • Types of Hemolytic Anemia
        • What Causes Hemolytic Anemia?
        • Who is at Risk for Hemolytic Anemia?
        • What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hemolytic Anemia?
        • How is Hemolytic Anemia Diagnosed?
        • How is Hemolytic Anemia Treated?
        • How Can Hemolytic Anemia Be Prevented?
        • Living With Hemolytic Anemia
      • Hemophilia
        • Other Names for Hemophilia
        • What Causes Hemophilia?
        • What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hemophilia?
        • How is Hemophilia Diagnosed?
        • How is Hemophilia Treated?
        • Living With Hemophilia
      • Immune Thrombocytopenia
        • Other Names for Immune Thrombocytopenia
        • What Causes Immune Thrombocytopenia?
        • Who is at Risk for Immune Thrombocytopenia?
        • What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Immune Thrombocytopenia?
        • Screening for Immune Thrombocytopenia
        • Diagnosing Immune Thrombocytopenia
        • Treating Immune Thrombocytopenia
        • Living with Immune Thrombocytopenia
      • Iron-Deficiency Anemia
        • What Causes Iron-Deficiency Anemia?
        • Who is at Risk of Iron-Deficiency Anemia?
        • What are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency?
        • How is Iron-Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed?
        • How is Iron-Deficiency Anemia Treated?
        • Living with Iron-Deficiency Anemia
        • Can Iron-Deficiency Anemia Be Prevented?
      • Pernicious Anemia
        • Other Names for Pernicious Anemia
        • How is Pernicious Anemia Diagnosed?
        • What Causes Pernicious Anemia?
        • What are the Risk Factors for Pernicious Anemia?
        • Screening and Prevention of Pernicious Anemia
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Pernicious Anemia
        • How is Pernicious Anemia Treated?
        • Living With Pernicious Anemia
      • Polycythemia Vera
        • Other Names for Polycythemia Vera?
        • What Causes Polycythemia Vera?
        • Risk Factors of Polycythemia Vera
        • Screening and Prevention of Polycythemia Vera
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Polycythemia Vera
        • How is Polycythemia Vera Diagnosed?
        • How is Polycythemia Vera Treated?
        • Living with Polycythemia Vera
      • Pulmonary Embolism
        • What Causes Pulmonary Embolism?
        • Risk Factors of Pulmonary Embolism
        • Screening and Prevention of Pulmonary Embolism ?
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Pulmonary Embolism
        • How is Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosed?
        • How is Pulmonary Embolism Treated?
        • Living with Pulmonary Embolism
      • Sickle Cell Disease
        • Overview of Sickle Cell Disease
        • Signs and Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease
        • Sickle Cell Disease Outlook
        • Other Names for Sickle Cell Disease?
        • What Causes Sickle Cell Disease?
        • Who is at Risk for Sickle Cell Disease?
        • Screening and Prevention of Sickle Cell Disease
        • Diagnosing Sickle Cell Disease
        • Treating Sickle Cell Disease
        • Living with Sickle Cell Disease
      • Thalassemias
        • Other Names for Thalassemias
        • Treatment of Thalassemias
        • What Causes Thalassemias?
        • Risk Factors of Thalassemias
        • Screening and Prevention of Thalassemias
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Thalassemias
        • Diagnosing Thalassemias
        • Living with Thalassemias
      • Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
        • Other Names for Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
        • What Causes Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis?
        • Screening and Prevention of Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
        • What are the Risk Factors in Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis?
        • Diagnosing Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
        • Living with Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
        • Treatment of Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis
      • Thrombocytopenia
        • What Causes Thrombocytopenia?
        • Diagnosing Thrombocytopenia
        • Risk Factors of Thrombocytopenia
        • Screening and Prevention of Thrombocytopenia
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Thrombocytopenia
        • Treatment of Thrombocytopenia
        • Living With Thrombocytopenia
      • Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
        • Other Names for Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
        • What Causes Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura?
        • What are the Risk Factors with Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura?
        • Screening and Prevention of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
        • Diagnosing Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
        • Treatment of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
        • Living with Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
      • Von Willebrand Disease
        • What Causes Von Willebrand Disease?
        • Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Von Willebrand Disease
        • Diagnosing Von Willebrand Disease
        • Treatment of Von Willebrand Disease
        • Living with Von Willebrand Disease
    • Community Resources
      • Cancer Connects
      • Support Groups
      • Cancer.net
      • Caring Bridge
      • Patient Mentoring
    • Advance Directives
    • Documents and Forms
    • Medical Terms
    • Patient Advocacy
    • CareSpace Patient Portal
  • Careers
    • Openings
  • Contact
    • East Syracuse, NY
    • Onondaga Hill – Syracuse, NY
    • Auburn, NY
    • Camillus, NY
  • News / Events
    • Patient Newsletters
    • Press Releases
  • Patient Portal
  • Referring Physicians

Anemia is the most common blood condition in the United States. Yet despite the fact that more than 3 million Americans suffer from some form of the condition, many people are a little fuzzy on exactly what anemia is.

  • Anemia is when your red blood cell count is low or the amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) inside those red blood cells is low.

While anemia itself is usually not dangerous until it gets quite severe, being anemic can be a big red flag for serious health issues. Whether you or a loved one has anemia or you just want to prepare for a conversation with your doctor, here are four crucial facts to know about anemia.

1. Anemia is a sign of another condition

Here’s the most important thing to understand about anemia—it is the result of some underlying disease or condition. That condition could be relatively harmless or quite serious.

Think of anemia like a fever. A fever is a tell-tale sign of another condition, perhaps a viral or bacterial infection. When doctors see a patient with a fever, they consider it a sign that something else is wrong in the body, and they immediately start trying to figure out what is causing the fever. The same is true of anemia.

There are dozens of causes of anemia, ranging from relatively minor things such as an unbalanced diet to serious problems such as cancer. Iron deficiency anemia, one of the most common types of anemia, can have a number of causes including heavy menstruation, celiac disease, pregnancy, colon cancer or simply not getting enough iron in your diet.

For a more complete rundown of the most common causes of anemia, visit the Merck Manuals page.

2. The symptoms of anemia are quite common (except for one)

There is a range of normal red blood cell and hemoglobin counts, and different people start to experience symptoms at different levels. By and large, fatigue is the most common sign of anemia. But fatigue can be caused by a lot of things. Keep an eye out for more concerning symptoms such as shortness of breath with a level of exertion that you could do in the past. Another symptom to watch for is looking more pale than normal.

One more unusual symptom is common in people with iron deficiency anemia. It’s known as pica. It’s characterized by chewing and eating things that are not food. The biology behind it is not well understood, but people with pica chew on things like ice, cardboard or dirt. It appears to be more common in people with nutritional deficiencies.

Perhaps the most important symptoms to be aware of are the symptoms of whatever is causing the anemia. For example, having blood in your stool and weight loss may be symptoms of a colon cancer or yellow eyes (jaundice) may result from breakdown of your red blood cells.

3. Doctors don’t screen for anemia

Unlike cholesterol and blood pressure, anemia isn’t part of routine screening. Instead, doctors will often order blood tests (called a complete blood count) if people complain of symptoms like fatigue.

If results of that blood workup reveal a low hemoglobin level, your doctor will probably conduct a thorough examination and have a more in-depth conversation about your symptoms and recent changes in health. Based on the findings, he or she may do more blood tests to watch for additional changes in your hemoglobin level or red blood cell count.

4. “Mild” anemia can still be serious

Anemia usually comes on slowly, often over weeks or months. That means that even anemias caused by a serious problem, like cancer, may show up at an early stage, when the anemia is quite mild. But even if your physician says your anemia is mild, it is still an indicator of a larger health issue at play. The severity of the anemia doesn’t always match the significance of its cause.

Figuring out the cause is the key to treating anemia and fixing it. It’s important be specific with your doctor about any changes in medication, symptoms or overall health that could help determine what’s causing the anemia.

7. Strange cravings
Some people with an iron-deficiency anemia crave and have a habit of chewing ice. It’s not clear why, but a study in the journal Medical Hypotheses suggests that it may give a boost in mental sharpness the same way a cup of coffee does. Some people may even have cravings for paper and clay too.

8. Brain fog
If you’re having trouble concentrating, remembering things or don’t feel as sharp as you did in the past, it might not just be age, but a lack of iron, Jacoub said.

9. Headaches
Tension headaches and migraines are common, but if you notice you’re having headaches more often or nothing you do seems to alleviate the pain, see your doctor.

10. Restless Leg Syndrome
It’s estimated that up to 10 percent of people in the U.S. have restless leg syndrome, a neurological disorder that can cause uncomfortable sensations in the legs and other parts of the body and an uncontrollable urge to constantly move. Although the association is not well understood, about 15 percent of people with the condition also have iron deficiency, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

11. Pregnancy risks
Although iron-deficiency anemia is common during pregnancy, left untreated, women have a higher risk for premature and low birth weight babies. The primary reason women are more likely to be iron deficient during pregnancy is due to the normal increase in water in the body.

“Even though you have the same number of red blood cells, there’s more volume for them to circulate around,” Gaither said.

Plus, iron stores can be depleted because they’re needed for the placenta and the baby. If you had an iron-deficiency prior to pregnancy or are having multiples, your risk is even higher.

12. Hair loss
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 80 million men and women experience hereditary hair loss, or what’s known as male pattern baldness. If you notice more hair in your brush or your hair is thinning, it might be that you’re anemic. It could also be a vitamin deficiency or a hormonal condition like hypothyroidism so bring it up to your doctor.

13. Black stools
Dark, tar-colored stools, blood in the stool or bleeding from the rectum could signal anemia. Yet it could also be a GI condition like Crohn’s disease or stomach or colon cancer so it’s important to see your doctor immediately. Abdominal discomfort or a change in your bowel habits are also important signs to look for.

How to get enough iron.
Experts agree, if you have iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor will likely run more tests and look at your medical history to find the root cause of it.

“Its not enough to know you’re iron deficient, the question is why?” Jacoub said.

If you’re pregnant, be sure to keep your prenatal appointments and always get your blood tests done to make sure your levels are sufficient.

Eat
Iron-rich foods including red meat, liver, oysters, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit and iron-fortified cereal can give you what you need.

Supplement
Your doctor may also recommend a daily multivitamin and an iron supplement. There are also food-based iron supplements that are non-constipating and for women, can be taken only around their periods, Cohen said.

Try Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can also help increase iron levels.

Despite the fact that anemia is a very common blood disorder, there is confusion about exactly what anemia is.

  • Anemia is when your red blood cell count is low or the amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) inside those red blood cells is low.

While anemia itself is usually not dangerous until it gets quite severe, being anemic can be a big red flag for serious health issues. Whether you or a loved one has anemia or you just want to prepare for a conversation with your doctor, here are four crucial facts to know about anemia.

1. Anemia is a sign of another condition

Here’s the most important thing to understand about anemia—it is the result of some underlying disease or condition. That condition could be relatively harmless or quite serious.

Think of anemia like a fever. A fever is a tell-tale sign of another condition, perhaps a viral or bacterial infection. When doctors see a patient with a fever, they consider it a sign that something else is wrong in the body, and they immediately start trying to figure out what is causing the fever. The same is true of anemia.

There are dozens of causes of anemia, ranging from relatively minor things such as an unbalanced diet to serious problems such as cancer. Iron deficiency anemia, one of the most common types of anemia, can have a number of causes including heavy menstruation, celiac disease, pregnancy, colon cancer or simply not getting enough iron in your diet.

For a more complete rundown of the most common causes of anemia, visit the MSD Manuals page.

2. The symptoms of anemia are quite common (except for one)

There is a range of normal red blood cell and hemoglobin counts, and different people start to experience symptoms at different levels. By and large, fatigue is the most common sign of anemia. But fatigue can be caused by a lot of things. Keep an eye out for more concerning symptoms such as shortness of breath with a level of exertion that you could do in the past. Another symptom to watch for is looking more pale than normal.

One more unusual symptom is common in people with iron deficiency anemia. It’s known as pica. It’s characterized by chewing and eating things that are not food. The biology behind it is not well understood, but people with pica chew on things like ice, cardboard or dirt. It appears to be more common in people with nutritional deficiencies.

Perhaps the most important symptoms to be aware of are the symptoms of whatever is causing the anemia. For example, having blood in your stool and weight loss may be symptoms of a colon cancer or yellow eyes (jaundice) may result from breakdown of your red blood cells.

3. Doctors don’t screen for anemia

Unlike cholesterol and blood pressure, anemia isn’t part of routine screening. Instead, doctors will often order blood tests (called a complete blood count) if people complain of symptoms like fatigue.

If results of that blood workup reveal a low hemoglobin level, your doctor will probably conduct a thorough examination and have a more in-depth conversation about your symptoms and recent changes in health. Based on the findings, he or she may do more blood tests to watch for additional changes in your hemoglobin level or red blood cell count.

4. “Mild” anemia can still be serious

Anemia usually comes on slowly, often over weeks or months. That means that even anemias caused by a serious problem, like cancer, may show up at an early stage, when the anemia is quite mild. But even if your physician says your anemia is mild, it is still an indicator of a larger health issue at play. The severity of the anemia doesn’t always match the significance of its cause.

Figuring out the cause is the key to treating anemia and fixing it. It’s important be specific with your doctor about any changes in medication, symptoms or overall health that could help determine what’s causing the anemia.

Anemia

  • Larger text sizeLarge text sizeRegular text size

What Is Anemia?

Anemia is when the number of red blood cells in the body gets too low. Red blood cells carry hemoglobin (pronounced: HEE-muh-glow-bin), a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. Without enough of them, oxygen doesn’t get to the body’s organs. Without enough oxygen, the organs can’t work normally.

There are many different kinds of anemia, so treatments vary.

What Are the Different Kinds of Anemia?

The types of anemia are based on what causes them. They include:

  • Anemias from when red blood cells get broken down too fast, called hemolytic anemias. They include:
    • autoimmune hemolytic anemia: when the body’s immune system destroys its own red blood cells
    • inherited hemolytic anemias: these include sickle cell disease, thalassemia, G6PD deficiency, and hereditary spherocytosis
  • Anemia from bleeding. This can happen due to bleeding from an injury, heavy menstrual periods, the gastrointestinal tract, or another medical problem.
  • Anemia from red blood cells being made too slowly, such as:
    • aplastic anemia: when the body stops making red blood cells from an infection, illness, or other cause
    • iron-deficiency anemia: when someone doesn’t have enough iron in their diet
    • anemia B12 deficiency: when someone doesn’t get enough B12 in the diet or the body can’t absorb the B12

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Anemia?

Some people with anemia don’t have any symptoms. Someone who does have symptoms might:

  • look pale
  • seem moody
  • be very tired
  • feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • have a fast heartbeat
  • have jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), an enlarged spleen, and dark tea-colored pee (in hemolytic anemias)

Doctors usually can diagnose anemia by:

  • asking questions about symptoms
  • asking about diet
  • asking if any family members have anemia
  • doing a physical exam
  • doing blood tests to:
    • look at the red blood cells with a microscope to check their size and shape
    • check the amount of hemoglobin and iron in the blood
    • check how fast new RBCs are being made
    • check for any inherited anemias
    • check other cells made in the bone marrow (such as white blood cells)

Sometimes doctors do tests on the bone marrow. The bone marrow is the spongy part inside the bone where blood cells are made. For this test, the doctor puts a needle into the bone to take a small bone marrow sample. The sample is sent to the lab for special tests.

How Is Anemia Treated?

Treatment for anemia depends on the cause. Teens with anemia might need:

  • medicines
  • changes in their diet
  • blood transfusions
  • treatment of another underlying disease
  • to see doctors (hematologists) who specialize in anemia and other blood problems

If you have iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor will probably prescribe an iron supplement to take several times a day. Your doctor may do a follow-up blood test after you’ve been taking the supplement for a while. Even if the tests show that the anemia has improved, you might have to keep taking iron for several months to build up your body’s iron stores.

To make sure you get enough iron, eat a balanced diet every day, starting with a breakfast that includes an iron source, such as an iron-fortified cereal or bread. Lean meat, raisins, chard, eggs, nuts, dried beans, tomato sauce, and molasses also are good sources of iron.

If someone’s anemia is caused by another medical condition, doctors will work to treat the cause. People with some types of anemia will need to see a hematologist, who can provide the right medical care for their needs.

The good news is that for most people, anemia is easily treated. And in a few weeks they’ll have their energy back!

Reviewed by: Robin E. Miller, MD Date reviewed: June 2019

  • Larger text sizeLarge text sizeRegular text size

Anemia is when the number of red blood cells in the body gets too low. Red blood cells carry hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin), a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. Without enough of them, oxygen doesn’t get to the body’s organs. Without enough oxygen, the organs can’t work normally.

There are many different kinds of anemia, so treatments vary.

The types of anemia are based on what causes them. They include:

  • Anemias from when red blood cells get broken down too fast, called hemolytic anemias. They include:
    • autoimmune hemolytic anemia: when the body’s immune system destroys its own red blood cells
    • inherited hemolytic anemias: these include sickle cell disease, thalassemia, G6PD deficiency, and hereditary spherocytosis
  • Anemia from bleeding. This can happen due to bleeding from an injury, heavy menstrual periods, the gastrointestinal tract, or another medical problem.
  • Anemia from red blood cells being made too slowly, such as:
    • aplastic anemia: when the body stops making red blood cells from an infection, illness, or other cause
    • iron-deficiency anemia: when someone doesn’t have enough iron in their diet
    • anemia B12 deficiency: when someone doesn’t get enough B12 in the diet or the body can’t absorb the B12

Some children with anemia don’t have any symptoms. A child who does have symptoms might:

  • look pale
  • seem moody
  • be very tired
  • feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • have a fast heartbeat
  • have jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), an enlarged spleen, and dark tea-colored pee (in hemolytic anemias)

Young children with iron-deficiency anemia also might have developmental delays and behavioral problems.

Doctors usually can diagnose anemia by:

  • asking questions about symptoms
  • asking about diet
  • asking if any family members have anemia
  • doing a physical exam
  • doing blood tests to:
    • look at the red blood cells with a microscope to check their size and shape
    • check the amount of hemoglobin and iron in the blood
    • check how fast new RBCs are being made
    • check for any inherited anemias
    • check other cells made in the bone marrow (such as white blood cells)

Sometimes doctors do tests on the bone marrow. The bone marrow is the spongy part inside the bone where blood cells are made. For this test, the doctor puts a needle into the bone to take a small bone marrow sample. The sample is sent to the lab for special tests.

Treatment for anemia depends on the cause. Kids and teens with anemia might need:

  • medicines
  • changes in their diet
  • blood transfusions
  • treatment of another underlying disease
  • to see doctors (hematologists) who specialize in anemia and other blood problems

How Can Parents Help?

Most kinds of anemia are treatable. It may take a while for symptoms to go away, so your child should take it easy while recovering.

Help your child get the best care by:

  • going to all doctor’s appointments
  • following the doctor’s recommendations

Reviewed by: Robin E. Miller, MD Date reviewed: June 2019

If iron deficiency is the cause of your anemia, you may be treated in the following ways:

  • Iron supplements. Be sure to take your iron supplements exactly as directed.
    • Iron supplements are absorbed best if taken one hour before meals. Taking them before you eat, though, may give you an upset stomach or constipation. Talk with your doctor about the best way to handle side effects.
    • Some people have digestive problems when they take iron. If you can’t tolerate iron supplements taken by mouth, you may be given iron intravenously or as an injection in to a muscle.
    • Do not drink milk or take antacids at the same time as your iron supplements. They may interfere with absorbing the iron.
    • It usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks of regular iron supplements before your symptoms start to improve.
    • You may need to keep taking iron for several months to build up your reserves of iron and prevent your anemia from returning. Take your pills for as long as your doctor recommends, even if your symptoms have improved.
  • Diet and nutrition. Eating more iron-rich foods is a good, natural way to improve your health. Even if you eat more iron, though, most people with anemia still need to take iron supplements.
    • Iron rich foods include red meat (especially liver), egg yolks, fish, peas and beans, chicken, and whole-grain bread.
    • Vitamin C may increase the absorption of iron, and also helps your body produce hemoglobin. Ask your doctor if you should be taking it.

With treatment, most people recover from iron-deficiency anemia in 2 to 3 months. You may need to take iron supplements for several months longer, though, to build up your reserves of iron.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *