How is Anemia Managed?

The treatment of anemia varies, depending on the cause. Iron-deficiency anemia, the most common type, can be treated with iron supplementation.   

Some patients may not make enough red blood cells, and they may be given a product called erythropoietin or “epo.” This is a product that mimics the function of natural erythropoietin and stimulates the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow.  

Patients who have chronic renal failure or who are on dialysis may not be able to make enough red blood cells; without treatment, they would experience chronic anemia. Erythropoietin enables doctors to maintain a more normal red blood cell count. This product may also be used to treat anemia associated with  inflammatory bowel disease, chronic hepatitis, and chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, and heart failure. 

For some patients whose anemia is severe and does not diminish with these measures, blood transfusion from the community blood supply may be the last option. (Note: autologous transfusion is not an option for treatment of severe chronic anemia).