Often, you can treat and control anemia. If you have signs and symptoms of this condition, seek prompt diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may give you a greater energy and activity level, improve your quality of life, and help you live longer.
With proper treatment, many types of anemia are mild and short term. However, anemia can be severe, long lasting, or even fatal when it’s due to an inherited disease, chronic disease, or trauma.
Anemia and Children/Teens
Infants and young children have a greater need for iron because of their rapid growth. Not enough iron can lead to anemia. Preterm and low-birth-weight babies are often watched closely for anemia.
Most of the iron your child needs comes from food. Talk to your child’s doctor about a healthy diet and good sources of iron, vitamins B12 and C, and folic acid (folate). Only give your child iron supplements if the doctor prescribes them. You should carefully follow instructions on how to give your child these supplements.
If your child has anemia, his or her doctor may ask whether the child has been exposed to lead. Lead poisoning in children has been linked to iron-deficiency anemia.
Teenagers are at risk for anemia, especially iron-deficiency anemia, because of their growth spurts. Routine screenings for anemia are often started in the teen years.
Older children and teens who have certain types of severe anemia may be at higher risk for injuries or infections. Talk to your child’s doctor about whether your child needs to avoid high-risk activities, such as contact sports.
Girls begin to menstruate and lose iron with each monthly period. Some girls and women are at higher risk for anemia due to excessive blood loss from menstruation or other causes, low iron intake, or a history of anemia. These girls and women may need regular screenings and followup for anemia.
Anemia and Pregnant/Postchildbirth Women
Anemia can occur during pregnancy due to lack of iron and folate and changes in the blood. During the first 6 months of pregnancy, the fluid portion of a woman’s blood (the plasma) increases faster than the number of red blood cells. This dilutes the blood and can lead to anemia.
Severe anemia raises the risk of having a preterm birth or a low-birth-weight baby. Thus, pregnant women should be screened for anemia during their first prenatal visits. They also need routine followup as part of prenatal care.
Women often are tested for anemia after delivery (postpartum), especially if they had:
Anemia and Older Adults
Chronic diseases, lack of iron, and/or generally poor nutrition often cause anemia in older adults. In this age group, anemia often occurs with other medical problems. Thus, the signs and symptoms of anemia often aren’t as clear and may be overlooked.
You should contact your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of anemia. If you’re diagnosed with anemia, your doctor may: