OverviewCausesSymptomsDiagnosisTreatment

Treatment options will focus on the type of anemia plus the lifestyle, overall health, and symptoms of the patient. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There are many variables involved in the disease, so treatment of it requires extremely specific care plans. 

Treatment Options

Diet 

For vitamin or mineral deficiency anemias, the treatment will likely involve dietary changes. A healthcare provider might suggest the patient meet with a dietician to discuss a preventative meal plan. The focus will be on lean meats, leafy vegetables, and certain fruits. The goal is to increase iron, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin C. In some cases, that may require a dietary supplement. 

It is not uncommon for healthcare providers to recommend iron supplements for patients with anemia. They should only be taken at the recommendation of a health professional, though. Excessive iron in the blood may increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease

Blood Transfusion

For extreme cases that usually involve more serious anemias such as sickle cell, hemolytic, aplastic, or those due to an underlying disease, the best course of treatment is a blood transfusion. Transfusions may involve whole blood, which contains all the components of the blood (including red blood cells, plasma, clotting factors, and platelets), or simply packed red blood cells. 

In general, a patient would require a blood transfusion if their hematocrit (volume of red blood cells) level falls below 30 percent. That low number of red blood cells may put them at risk for cardiac complications. 

Bone Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant is a treatment for aplastic anemia and, in some cases, sickle cell. Bone marrow transplants are sometimes necessary for a patient undergoing chemotherapy or taking certain medications, too. Why bone marrow? Because that is where the body manufactures red blood cells. A transplant is therefore ideal in these cases as it replaces the existing marrow that isn’t making healthy cells.

FAQ

How serious is being anemic?

Being anemic can be quite serious because it often indicates another medical problem, such as bleeding. Undiagnosed anemia may increase the risk of cardiac complications, too. After all, red blood cells carry oxygen, which is necessary to sustain life. Not getting enough oxygen can be serious, leading to potentially life-threatening consequences. 

Some forms of anemia are more serious than others, though.

At the very least, it is a condition that leaves the sufferer feeling sick and tired all the time. It therefore reduces the quality of life and is easily treatable in most situations. It can cause complications with pregnancies, as well.

What is the fastest way to cure anemia?

The fastest treatment would be a blood transfusion, but there are risks involved with it. For most, the problem resolves itself with simple diet changes. 

Is anemia curable?

It would depend on the type of anemia. For many people, the answer is yes. If the anemia is due to a dietary deficiency, for example, improving the diet will cure it. If it is the result of an underlying condition, resolving that condition will eliminate the anemia, as well.

There is no cure for certain forms of the disease, though. There are treatments that can make it manageable, however. For instance, sickle cell anemia may be manageable; in fact, it is possible that a stem cell transplant early in life might cure the disease. 

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.


More about Anemia

Written by

Medically reviewed by