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    Understanding Anemia -- Diagnosis and Treatment

    What Are the Treatments for Anemia? continued...

    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. 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.

    Some 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. Others will be able to take vitamin B12 supplements by mouth.

    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 folic acid supplements (folic acid is a form of folate used in dietary supplements and fortified foods.) He 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); dairy products; and whole grain cereals. Vegetables should be eaten raw or lightly cooked.

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