Anemia and Diabetes (Continued)
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should consult your healthcare provider. Likely, your healthcare provider will assess your medical history, perform a physical exam, and take blood tests. Family medical history, diet, medications you may take, and ethnic background become factors in determining the cause of your symptoms. Blood tests will indicate whether or not you have anemia, as well as help pinpoint the underlying cause.
A complete blood count (CBC) will assess the number, size, volume, and hemoglobin content of your red blood cells. To indicate the amount of iron in your blood, blood tests can determine the blood iron level and serum ferritin level. Tests can also identify the levels of vitamin B12 and folate in your body, and special tests can be used to detect rare anemic causes.
Treatment for anemia will begin only once the underlying cause has been determined. Methods of treatment vary depending on the cause.
For anemia caused by blood loss, your healthcare provider may treat you with fluids, a blood transfusion, oxygen, and possibly iron. If there is chronic blood loss, the source of the bleeding will need to be determined and stopped.
Iron deficiency anemia can be treated with iron supplements.
Other treatments include vitamin B-12 injections and supplements, folate supplements, and changes in diet.
For people who developed anemia as a result of a chronic disease, treating the underlying condition may improve or possibly resolve the anemia altogether. So, for example, people who have anemia due to kidney failure may need dialysis, erythropoietin shots, and possibly, a kidney transplant.
Other cases of anemia may require specialized treatment. Make sure to have your blood periodically monitored by your healthcare provider and keep up with your treatment.
Although many types of anemia cannot be prevented, you can take steps to lower your chances of developing the blood condition. Here's what you can do:
- Get enough iron in your diet. Iron-rich foods can go a big way toward preventing iron deficiency anemia. They include meats, eggs, lentils, beans, and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Control your blood glucose and blood pressure. Healthy levels of blood glucose and blood pressure help prevent kidney disease, which is strongly associated with the development of anemia.
- Consider folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin B-12. Folic acid is a B vitamin, which helps the body produce new cells. Diabetes-friendly sources of this vitamin include citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, and legumes. Vitamin C allows iron to be absorbed more easily. Eat sources rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, and dark, leafy greens, preferably just before or after consuming your sources of iron. Vitamin B-12 also helps ward off vitamin deficiency anemia, and can be found in meat and dairy products.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeinated products, such as coffee, tea, and soda, can inhibit iron absorption.
- Time your calcium. Consume calcium a few hours before or after ingesting your main source of iron, as they can interfere with iron absorption.
- Watch your meds. Taking certain medications can increase your risk for anemia. Talk to your healthcare provider and determine whether your medications may be making you more susceptible to this blood condition.
Reviewed by Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFNC. 9/12
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