Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Information and Resources

Understanding Anemia -- Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Anemia? continued...

Your doctor may also recommend that you increase the amount of iron in your diet. Good dietary sources of iron include red meat, beans, egg yolk, whole-grain products, nuts, and seafood. Many processed foods and milk are also reinforced with iron.

Your doctor will monitor your red blood cell counts, including hematocrit, hemoglobin, and ferritin levels, during treatment. If your anemia doesn't improve with iron supplements, your doctor will look for some other underlying cause. In rare cases, your doctor may prescribe iron injections or give you iron intravenously (through a needle in the vein). In extremely rare cases of life-threatening iron-deficiency anemia, treatment may involve a blood transfusion.

Anemia Caused By Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiency

Treatment depends on the cause of the deficiency. If your body stores are depleted of vitamin B12, your doctor will most likely prescribe vitamin B12 injections. Vitamin B12 can also be given by mouth, but very high doses are needed. The dose is 200 times higher than the dose commonly found in multivitamins. Vitamin B12 can also been given under the tongue or in a nasal spray, but these preparations are expensive and have not been adequately studied to be recommended. There is a good chance that many of the symptoms of deficiency will improve once the body is provided with the needed B12.

Most people with vitamin B12 deficiency have a permanent inability to absorb vitamin B12 and will need injections every one to three months or pills daily for the rest of their lives.

Some forms of gastric bypass surgery are associated with deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, and other nutrients typically absorbed in the part of the stomach that is bypassed.

Your doctor may also recommend that you increase the amount of vitamin B12 in your diet. Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 are meat, liver, and kidney; fish, oysters, and clams; and milk, cheese, and eggs.

If you have a folate deficiency, your doctor will prescribe folate supplements, and may recommend you increase the amount of folate in your diet. Good dietary sources of folate include fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts); liver and kidney; dairy products; and whole grain cereals. Vegetables should be eaten raw or lightly cooked.

Anemia Caused by Problems of the Bone Marrow and Stem Cells.

This anemia tends to be more persistent and difficult to treat. The treatments for hereditary anemias, such as thalassemia or sickle cell disease, vary widely and depend on the specific condition and the severity of symptoms. Some anemias will not require any treatment, while others may require repeated transfusions and other aggressive measures. Although aplastic anemia will occasionally go into spontaneous remission, people with this disorder generally require bone marrow transplantation.

WebMD Medical Reference

Hot Topics

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

tea
What you should eat.
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
colon xray
Get the facts.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
fruit drinks
Foods that can help you focus.
Sad dog and guacamole
Don't feed this to your dog.
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.