Understanding Anemia: Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Consider the risk factors, causes and treatment for anemia.

Consider the risk factors, causes and treatment for anemia
By + More

The most common signs and symptoms associated with anemia include fatigue or feeling tired and weak, shortness of breath, dizziness, light-headedness, headache, a cold feeling in the hands and feet, pale skin and sometimes chest pain and heart palpitations.

How is Anemia Diagnosed?

Your doctor will probably ask you about your medical history, perform a medical examination and order a blood test called a CBC (complete blood count) to examine the various types of cells in the blood. Your doctor may also order other tests to determine the type of anemia you have.

Treatment

The treatment selected for your anemia depends on the type, cause and severity. Treatment may include changes in what you eat; the use of supplements such as iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 supplements; certain medications; or a blood transfusion. Your doctor will determine the best treatment plan for your type of anemia. It is important that you adhere to the treatment plan to prevent further complications. You should also schedule routine visits with your doctor to monitor your progress. You should always discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

Preventing Anemia

Although many forms of anemia cannot be prevented, your risks of developing iron-deficiency anemia and vitamin-deficiency anemia may be decreased by eating a healthy, balanced diet. This should include foods high in iron (beef and dark green, leafy vegetables), vitamin B12 (meat and dairy) and folic acid (citrus juices and dark green, leafy vegetables).

You may want to discuss the use of a multivitamin supplement with your doctor. If you have a medical condition and are currently taking any prescription medications, you should always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, including "alternative" medications, to make sure they're appropriate.

Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 12, 2011, on PharmacyTimes.com. It has been edited and republished by U.S. News.