Treatment, Complications and Prognosis of Anemia
Anemia is a common disease that causes a lower red blood cell count than normal. There are more than 400 types of anemia, each one has a separate cause. Its symptoms are very mild in the beginning which normally get ignored but get worse over time. If left untreated, it can cause severe complications and may even lead to death. So, don’t ignore the symptoms and take timely treatment to save your life. Learn more about the management, complications, and prognosis of Anemia in this article.
Anemia treatment depends on the cause.
- Iron deficiency anemia: In this form of anemia, treatment is given by iron supplements or changing the diet. If you develop iron deficiency due to loss of blood, the doctors find the site of bleeding and stop them if needed. This may require surgery.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia: Treatment depends on which vitamin deficiency you develop. Usually, treatment is provided by folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements or by making diet changes to complete the nutrients from the diet. Some people may have problems absorbing vitamin B12 from food so they may need vitamin B12 shots. First, the shots should be given every other day. But with time as the body recovers, the shots are only required once a month for a lifetime.
- Anemia by chronic disease: In this type of anemia, treatment is given by treating the disease that causes it. If your symptoms are severe, treatment may include a blood transfusion or shots of a hormone called erythropoietin.
- Anemia associated with bone marrow disease: For treatment, most diseases are treated by medications or chemotherapy. In severe cases, you may need to get a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor.
- Aplastic anemia: In this type of anemia, treatment involves blood transfusions to boost the levels of red blood cells. A bone marrow transplant may also be needed if the bone marrow is not able to produce healthy blood cells.
- Hemolytic anemia: This type of anemia can be managed by stopping medicines that may cause it. As the immune system is attacking red blood cells, treatment may require taking certain medications to lower immune system activity.
- Sickle cell anemia: Treatment involves oxygen, pain relievers, and hydration with fluids injected into the vein (called intravenous) to reduce pain and other complications. A blood transfusion, folic acid supplement, and antibiotics may be required. A cancer drug called hydroxyurea can be used to treat sickle cell anemia in certain cases.
- Thalassemia: Most of the symptoms are mild and do not require treatment. But severe forms of thalassemia should be treated with blood transfusions, folic acid supplements, medicines, blood, and bone marrow transplants, or in certain cases by removing the spleen.
If you leave anemia untreated, it could cause many health problems, such as:
- Severe tiredness: You feel exhausted which makes it impossible for you to carry out everyday tasks.
- Heart problems: Rapid and irregular heartbeat is a common symptom of anemia which is called arrhythmia. Over time, the heart has to pump more blood to make up for the little oxygen in the blood which can lead to heart enlargement or heart failure.
- Pregnancy complications: Pregnant people may develop folate deficiency due to anemia which may lead to complications such as premature birth.
- Death: Some inherited anemias, such as sickle cell anemia, can cause life-threatening complications. Because losing a lot of blood quickly causes severe anemia and can be fatal.
Your prognosis depends on why you developed anemia, the type of anemia you have, and whether it’s a mild or severe form of it. Usually, healthcare providers can treat anemia by making some dietary changes or with medications. But sometimes, you may have to live with anemia for the rest of your life.
Need any help with anemia? Want to learn more about macronutrients, micronutrients, and vitamins, and their role in nutrition? Consult a professional dietician at Doral Health & Wellness; call us on +1-347-384-5690 to get a consultation, or walk-in for an appointment at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212. Doral Health & Wellness is easily accessible by bus, taxi, or subway.