Iron deficiency anemia treatment addresses the type of anemia characterized by a lack of iron in the body. Iron is necessary to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to cells. Some symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include pale skin, frequent dizziness and extreme fatigue. People often develop anemia gradually and without noticing any symptoms until they become serious. Since they are unaware that they have it, they might not know how to treat it. Examples of iron deficiency anemia treatment include dietary changes, iron supplements, and other treatments based on the root cause of the condition. Some conditions that may result in iron deficiency anemia include Crohn's disease and various types of cancer.
A basic lack of iron in the diet is a common cause of anemia. Women are especially prone to iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy, when they must have enough iron available for themselves and a fetus. An iron deficiency also can occur because of blood loss due to menstruation, uterine fibroids, or bleeding ulcers. Some people’s bodies simply lack the ability to absorb iron.
Physicians usually diagnose iron deficiency anemia with blood tests, including one to measure hemoglobin levels. The doctor might order additional diagnostic tests if the patient’s blood tests reveal anemia and he or she wants to identify an underlying cause. Iron deficiency anemia treatment options are based on the exact cause and the patient’s risk factors. The most common treatments include dietary modification, iron supplements, or treatment of the underlying cause.
Iron deficiency anemia due to a lack of iron in the diet often can be corrected by eating more iron rich foods. Dietary modification alone might not be the most effective treatment for iron deficiency anemia, but it is a step in the right direction. Iron rich foods include red meat, turkey, legumes, egg yolks, beans, and iron-fortified and whole-grain breads and cereals. Certain fruits and vegetables, as well as most types of meat, poultry, and fish, also may help iron absorption when eaten with other iron rich foods.
Physicians often prescribe iron pills in conjunction with dietary adjustments. Patients should consult their health care providers about iron supplements rather than attempting to correct the deficiency on their own. Iron pills often can fix the problem, but medical experts warn against self-medicating or over medicating with iron, which can be dangerous in high amounts. Iron replacement shots are an alternative iron deficiency anemia treatment if the patient prefers not to take pills.
In many instances, the physician also may opt to provide treatment for the underlying cause of the anemia, since it might indicate a more serious health problem such as an ulcer, one of a number of diseases or various types of cancer. In severe cases when every other iron deficiency anemia treatment is ineffective, a blood transfusion to restore iron might be necessary.