Anemia Care and Treatment
Why Choose Treatment for Anemia at University of Colorado Hospital?
University of Colorado Hospital is the top regional center for the treatment of anemia.
Doctors at UCH are certified in their fields, conducting research into the most effective treatments for the condition and bringing that knowledge to the patients they see every day.
What is Anemia?
People with anemia have a low number of red blood cells, which provide oxygen to the body.
This diminished supply of oxygen to tissues in the body causes the symptoms of anemia, a condition that about 3.5 million Americans have to some degree.
Often anemia is caused by a lack of iron. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and organs.
People with anemia often exhibit one or more symptoms:
- Feeling cold
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty thinking
Patient Education About Anemia
Living with Anemia
Living with anemia begins with promptly seeking diagnosis and treatment if you exhibit symptoms of the disorder, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness and chest pain
- Pale skin
- Cold feet and hands
Your doctor will be able to determine if you are anemic, and isolate any of several possible causes, including:
- Lack of iron in the diet
- Colon polyps (masses of swollen membrane or colon cancer)
- Ulcers (a condition causing a breakdown of membrane and death of tissue)
- Lack of folic acid (a B complex vitamin) or vitamin B12
- Inherited blood disorder
You may be able to alleviate the symptoms of mild anemia with exercise. However, more serious forms of the disorder can worsen other conditions. Severe anemia can be fatal if it is not treated.
Getting a Second Opinion About Anemia
A second opinion is worth considering if your doctor does not know why you are anemic, or feels that a treatment that should work, isn't.
Additional Anemia Resources
Medline Plus: Anemia
Medline Plus: Anemia of chronic disease
Diamond Blackfan Anemia Support Group
Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation Inc.
Tests and Treatments for Anemia
Complete Blood Count. Your doctor will usually order a complete blood count (CBC) if he or she thinks you may have anemia. The CBC measures the numbers of red blood cells (oxygen-carrying cells) and the levels of hemoglobin in your body.
Blood Smear. Along with a CBC, you doctor may order a blood smear. The blood smear is used to find small or abnormally shaped red blood cells, an indication of anemia.
Ferritin Test. The ferritin test is ordered to measure the levels of iron in your body. The test can confirm a diagnosis of anemia.
Reticulocyte Count. This blood test measures how quickly new red blood cells (reticulocytes) are produced by bone marrow and sent into the blood. The test can show whether anemia is caused by low red blood cell production or a loss of red blood cells.
Serum Iron Test. A serum iron blood test helps to identify the cause of anemia. For example, the test can reveal if the anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the blood or by a chronic illness such as kidney disease.
Iron Supplements. Anemia is often caused by a lack of iron. In this case, your doctor will usually prescribe iron pills, which you may take for several months.
Vitamin Injections. Your body may not be able to absorb folic acid or vitamin B12 properly. In this case, you may need regular injections of the vitamins, sometimes for the remainder of your life.
Vitamin Supplements. A lack of folic acid may cause your anemia. In this case, your doctor will usually prescribe oral folic acid supplements.
Blood Transfusions. In rare cases, the bone marrow is unable to produce enough red blood cells (aplastic anemia). This may require blood transfusions to increase the number of cells.
Your Medical Team
At UCH, doctors who specialize in blood disorders such as anemia work together with nurses and other providers to treat the condition, ensuring that your treatment regimen is a result of the best medical opinions.
- Hematologist – A doctor who treats diseases of the blood and the blood-forming organs.
- Internist – A doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases that do not require surgery.
- Oncologist – A doctor who diagnoses and treats cancer.
- Pediatrician – A doctor who specializes in treating children.
Other Anemia Staff
Clinical care nurse – a nurse who specializes in the care of a specific patient population.