Treatment of Anemia

In addition to following the treatment for anemia prescribed by the doctor, it will be essential to improve lifestyle habits to achieve improvement and, from then on, maintain a good quality of life.
Treatment of Anemia

Written by Maite Córdova Vena, 08 July, 2021

Last update: 08 July, 2021

Fortunately, for each type of anemia, there’s a specific treatment. They’re so diverse that they can’t all be treated in the same way. Each one presents its own series of peculiarities.

For this reason, until the cause of the anemia is known, no treatment should be prescribed, nor should you try to treat yourself with iron supplements or the like.

Only when anemia poses a great risk to the life of the person, are blood transfusions performed urgently. More specifically, transfusions of packed red blood cells (from donations), as pointed out by experts from the Clinic of the University of Navarra.

Let’s have a look at the treatment of anemia, depending on its origin, and some complementary measures with regard to lifestyle and home remedies.

Medicines

Treatment of anemia includes drugs
Medication for anemia is very different, depending on the cause.

As we already mentioned, there’s no universal treatment that encompasses all types of anemia. The vast majority focus on the underlying causes of the condition. However, in relation to the medications and procedures that may be required in some cases, we can mention the following:

  • If the anemia has been caused by an infection, it will remit when the cause is treated. This, in turn, could be caused by bacteria or parasites. In the former, the use of antibiotic drugs would be considered and in the latter, the use of antiparasitic drugs.
  • If the cause of the anemia is bleeding, treatment will be aimed at stopping the cause of the bleeding. This, in some cases, may require surgery (such as removal of the spleen).
  • There’s no treatment for anemia in chronic diseases, but only for the underlying disease.
  • For aplastic anemia, medications may be prescribed to stimulate the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. This measure could also be useful in the case of leukemia.
    • Marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, and the use of other drugs can also be part of the therapeutic strategy.

Supplementation

Treatment of anemia related to some type of nutritional deficiency may include some supplements. These usually come in pill or lozenge form and are taken 1-3 times a day, depending on the case.

In relation to this, Dr. Ananya Mandal explains the following:

“Folate tablets are generally prescribed along with vitamin B12 supplements. This is because treatment with folic acid can sometimes improve symptoms that mask an underlying vitamin B12 deficiency.”

There are cases (pernicious anemia, for example) where injections of vitamin B12 can be administered. These aren’t administered daily but on alternate days for specific periods of time (usually around 15 days).

Not only iron or vitamin B12 and folate supplements are prescribed. In some cases (such as sickle cell anemia) it’s necessary to resort to other supplements, such as vitamin D and zinc.

Neither is it advisable to take supplements without consulting your doctor beforehand, as it could be counterproductive. A higher level of a nutrient isn’t always beneficial and could even cause organ damage. Therefore it’s essential to know how and when to use supplements for them to be beneficial.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Treatment of anemia includes the consumption of sources of iron
Consuming red meat can help raise hemoglobin levels.

In many cases of anemia, experts recommend making certain modifications in some lifestyle habits to promote the improvement of the person with anemia due to nutritional deficiencies (iron, folates, and vitamin B12 or folic acid), as well as to help them maintain their health.

Typically, the modifications are centered around diet and would be as follows:

  • Increasing the consumption of sources of iron, folates or vitamin B12 (depending on the deficiency) within the framework of a healthy diet.
    • Iron sources: Meat (chicken and beef liver), fish, eggs, legumes, figs, green leafy vegetables, among others.
    • Sources of vitamin B12: Fish, meat, dairy products, eggs, some cereals and fortified products.
    • Folate sources: legumes, citrus fruits, bananas or plantains, and vegetables.
  • Reducing the consumption of dairy foods (when consuming any source of iron, as dairy makes its absorption difficult). On the other hand, it’s recommended to take advantage of sources of vitamin C together with sources of iron, as the former helps it absorb correctly.
  • Avoid drinking tea, coffee, alcohol, and antacids.
  • Consume fortified soy sources (in the case of vegetarians and vegans).

It should be noted that although a balanced diet can contribute to a person’s improvement, in some cases it may not be enough to treat anemia. Therefore, the diet must always be in line with the doctor’s guidelines and other good lifestyle habits.

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