What is anemia?
Anemia describes a condition in which you have a low red blood cell count and low hemoglobin levels. This is a serious condition as red blood cells and hemoglobin carry oxygen to all your cells, allowing them to burn energy. If you’re anemic, you’ll likely feel fatigued and short of breath, lacking physical stamina. You may develop heart problems and appear pale. Anemia is often a symptom or consequence of some other disease or condition, so treatment varies widely depending on the root cause.
What is the treatment for anemia?
The treatment of the anemia varies greatly. First, the underlying cause of the anemia needs to be identified and corrected. For example, anemia as a result of blood loss from a stomach ulcer should begin with medications to heal the ulcer. Similarly, surgery is often necessary to remove a colon cancer that is causing chronic blood loss and anemia.
Sometimes iron supplements will also be needed to correct iron deficiency. In severe anemia, blood transfusions may be necessary. Vitamin B12 injections will be necessary for patients suffering from pernicious anemia, a name for vitamin B-12 deficiency.
In certain patients with bone marrow disease (or bone marrow damage from chemotherapy) or patients with kidney failure, epoetin alfa (Procrit, Epogen) may be used to stimulate bone marrow in red blood cell production.
If a medication is thought to be the culprit for anemia, then it should be discontinued under the direction of the prescribing doctor.
What specialty of doctor treats anemia?
Anemia may be treated by internal or family medicine specialists as well as specialists in disorders of the blood (hematologists).