Anemia | Treatment

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How is anemia treated?

Treatment depends on what's causing your anemia. For example, if anemia results from losing too much blood, your doctor will need to treat the cause of your blood loss. If anemia results from your diet being too low in iron, your doctor may recommend a change in your diet or iron pills.

Tips on taking iron pills

  • Take the pills with food.
  • Start slowly. Try taking 1 pill a day for 3 to 5 days, then 2 pills a day until you aren't bothered by that amount. Increase the number of pills until you're taking the amount your doctor recommended.
  • Increase the fiber in your diet if you have constipation. This is worth trying, even though fiber may get in the way of how well your body can absorb iron. You'll still be able to absorb some iron, and it's better than not taking any iron if you need it.
  • Don't take iron pills at bedtime if they upset your stomach.
  • If one type of iron pill causes problems, talk to your doctor about trying a different formula or brand.

How is normocytic anemia treated?

Managing the condition that is causing the anemia is the most important part of treating it. This might mean you would stop taking a particular medicine, or your doctor might treat a chronic illness or look for something that is causing you to lose blood cells.

If your normocytic anemia is very bad, you might get shots of erythropoietin. Erythropoietin (say: “air-rith-ro-po-et-in”) helps your bone marrow make more red blood cells.

How is anemia treated in children?

If your child is breastfed, talk to your doctor about adding some form of iron, such as iron-fortified cereal or vitamin drops with iron, to your child's diet starting at 4 to 6 months of age.

Warning:

Keep all products with iron stored out of the reach of your child because they can be poisonous if taken in large amounts.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 01/96

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