How is anemia treated?

First, your healthcare provider will find out if the anemia is being caused by a poor diet or a more serious health problem. Then, you can be treated for both the anemia and its cause. Iron-deficiency anemia is treated with:

  • Iron supplements taken by mouth.
  • Foods high in iron and foods that help your body absorb iron (like foods with Vitamin C).
  • Iron given through an intravenous (IV) infusion. (This is often a choice if you have chronic kidney disease, or CKD.)
  • Transfusions of red blood cells.

If your anemia is caused by internal bleeding, your provider may need to do surgery to stop it. Surgical repair has been used to cure anemia in people with the paraesophageal type of hiatal hernias, with or without ulcers (called Cameron’s ulcers).

Other types of anemia may require other types of treatment. For instance, genetic disorders (like beta thalassemia and sickle cell anemia) may require bone marrow transplant.

If CKD is causing your anemia, in addition to iron supplementation (through oral or IV means), treatment could also include injections of erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a hormone that tells the bone marrow to make red blood cells.

Anemia is also linked to cancer in some cases — both in terms of anemia being a symptom and in terms of cancer treatment. Both radiation and chemotherapy can cause anemia. It might be necessary to stall further cancer treatment until the anemia is improved by iron, blood transfusions, getting necessary B vitamins and/or getting shots of drugs to stimulate your body to produce EPO.

Is anemia fatal?

Although most types of anemia can be treated, anemia can still be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 1.7 deaths per 100,000 due to anemia in the U.S. in 2017.

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