Types of Anemia and Anemia Treatment Options

An at home anemia test (also known as at home hemoglobin test) can help you identify if you have anemia. After identifying the type and cause of your anemia, it is important to understand the correct anemia treatment options. Identifying the specific cause is the crucial first step in anemia treatment, because a beneficial treatment for one type of anemia may be deadly for another type. 

Anemia treatment for Iron Deficiency

Without normal levels of iron in the blood, the body is unable to normally produce red blood cells. In young women, a common cause of iron deficiency is an abnormally heavy menstrual flow. Men and non-menstruating women suffering from iron deficiencies will need to perform further testing to identify the source of iron loss. Iron supplements containing the ferrous form on iron is commonly used for anemia treatment. The type of iron is important because the ferrous form is more easily absorbed. Before starting iron supplements, always consult a physician to prevent again overconsumption. When iron is consumed at higher than recommended rates, symptoms including fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, heart disease, and joint problems may occur. When taking supplements, it is important to speak with your physician about how the supplements may interact with other medications you may be taking. Finally, make sure to keep supplements out of children’s reach.

Other anemia treatment options include increasing the amount of iron consumed naturally in your diet. Foods with high levels of iron include red meat, beans, egg yolk, nuts, seafood, whole grains, and leafy greens such as spinach. 

Anemia treatment for Vitamin B12 and B9 (Folate) Deficiency 

Common treatments for B12 deficiencies are injections, oral supplements, or nasal sprays. If there is a problem with the body’s ability to absorb B12, injections will need to be performed every few months. Many anemia treatments revolve around changes in the diet. In addition to injections, B12 can be consumed naturally in many animal foods such as meat, liver, and kidney; fish, shellfish, oysters, and clams; and low-fat milk, cheese, and eggs. Treatment for folate deficiency is similar, including folic acid supplements and incorporating folate-rich foods into your diet. Foods rich in folate include raw or lightly cooked fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, dairy products, and whole grains are additional sources of folate. 

Anemia treatment associated with Bone Marrow Disease

Anemia treatment for bone marrow diseases is not as simple as anemia treatment for deficiencies. Treatment depends highly on the individual. In some cases, anemia treatment may revolve around repeated transfusions of donated bone marrow, in other cases, there may be no treatment needed. 

Anemia treatment associated with Chronic Disease

When anemia is caused due to a chronic disease, physicians may choose to use Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). ESAs are a type of medicine that sends signals throughout your body to increase blood production.

Anemia treatment for Hemolytic anemia

Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can produce new cells. Treatment depends on the severity, and in some cases may not require any treatment. In more severe cases, red blood cell transfusions are used to increase the total number of red blood cells in the body. These additional cells come from someone else and can alleviate anemic symptoms. Hemolytic anemia treatment may also include the removal of the spleen (splenectomy). In some very rare cases in children, Hemolytic anemia can only be treated through bone marrow transplants. 

Bone marrow transplants are also a type of treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia. Presence of the new bone marrow allows for the formation of normal hemoglobin, allowing for proper oxygen transport.

Anemia treatment for vegetarians may include additional conversations with your physician about your diet and additional supplements you may need to take. Increased intake of Vitamin C may additionally help because Vitamin C is known to facilitate iron absorption in the body. Avoid caffeinated such as coffee or tea because they inhibit iron absorption. 

After an at home anemia test he rule of thumb for anemia treatment is always to consult your physician especially if you are considering adding vitamin supplements to your diet. 

*Reviewed and approved by Dr. Rob Lapporte

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