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Care & Treatment
Treatment for anemia will depend on the type that you have been diagnosed with:
If you are diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, your healthcare professional may prescribe oral iron supplements (usually ferrous sulfate or ferrous gluconate). Treatment may need to continue for 6 months or longer. A common treatment schedule is ferrous sulfate 325 mg 1-2 times daily, 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Orange juice or oral vitamin C supplements can help you absorb the iron. Antacids, H2-receptor blockers, proton-pump inhibitors, calcium supplements, and certain antibiotics (tetracycline, quinolones) can interfere with iron absorption.
The most common side effects of oral iron supplements are indigestion, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and dark stools. If you have uncomfortable side effects, your healthcare provider may suggest a lower dosage or frequency, or you can try a different formulation. There is no significant difference among the oral iron preparations, but one preparation may be better tolerated than another by an individual patient. Liquid iron drops may be better absorbed, but their side effects are similar to the effects from iron tablets.
If you are diagnosed with anemia due to vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, your healthcare provider may prescribe periodic injections or oral supplements of vitamin B12 or folic acid (the synthetic version of folate).
If you have hemolytic anemia, your healthcare professional might prescribe steroids or could even recommend surgery to remove your spleen, if it is enlarged.
Anemia caused by kidney disease or chemotherapy might require injection treatments (known as erythropoietin stimulating agents) to increase red blood cell production in the bone marrow.
You may need a blood transfusion if your blood counts are very low or if you are having severe symptoms from your anemia.
Updated: November 2016
Posted: March 2012