Anemia Information & Discounts
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When the body does not produce an adequate number of red blood cells in the blood, he or she has anemia. It is a common condition, can afflict anyone at any age, and ranges in severity and causes. Treatment for anemia is available and may range from simple dietary adjustments to medications (pernicious anemia treatment) to blood transfusions (treatment for sickle cell anemia), depending on the cause and the severity.
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Anemia Information & Discounts
What is anemia?
Anemia exists when a person’s body is not able to produce a sufficient number of red blood cells in order to remain healthy or it does not have enough hemoglobin. There are three primary causes of anemia and they affect the methods for anemia treatment: loss of blood, poor production of red blood cells (pernicious anemia), and an abnormal rate of red blood cell destruction (sickle cell anemia). Left untreated, anemia can cause severe physical problems, including organ damage. It can be fatal.
Sickle cell anemia is marked by red bloods cells that have a sickle shape. What makes this a life-threatening disease is that sickle cells have abnormal hemoglobin, making the cells sticky, causing them to clog arteries and damage organs. People of African descent are the most susceptible to sickle cell anemia, although it can appear in any one.
Pernicious anemia is the result of the body not being able to absorb enough Vitamin B12 from the food eaten because they lack an “intrinsic factor” – a specific protein that facilitates this. While there may be other causes for low B12, pernicious anemia refers specifically to this lack of the intrinsic factor.
How can I manage anemia?
Knowing the symptoms of anemia is a key step in knowing how to treat anemia including managing, or curing, the condition. If the anemia is caused by a lack of iron, simple adjustments in diet or iron supplements may be all that is needed. Blood loss may require a transfusion of healthy blood. Other types of anemia, such as pernicious or sickle cell will need medications, medical intervention, or both.
What are the different types of medications for anemia?
Pernicious Anemia Treatment
For pernicious anemia treatment, the most common medication is large doses of Vitamin B12. In less severe cases, a B12 nasal gel or nasal spray may be prescribed. For more severe cases, treatment may begin with shots, and then change to the gel or spray, or to pills. For children of women who are vegan or strict vegetarians, Vitamin B12 may be prescribed from birth.
For mild forms of anemia, known as iron poor blood or tired blood, a change in diet to increase iron intake may be all the anemia treatment that is needed.
Sickle Cell Anemia Treatment
Treatment for sickle cell anemia may start with acetaminophen to help control pain. However, more advanced sickle cell anemia treatment may require the prescribing of hydroxyurea, a chemotherapy medication.
For those requiring treatment for anemia due to conditions that inhibit the creation of red blood cells, manufactured versions of the hormone erythropoietin may be needed. This medication is marketed as Procrit, Epogen, and Eprex, and is also known as EPO and erythropoietin human glycoform alpha.
What are the symptoms of anemia?
There are several signs that may indicate anemia, and have an impact on how to treat anemia. These include fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, cold hands and feet, consistent headaches, dizziness, and chest pain. If you experience any of these, see your doctor for a checkup. A blood test is needed to diagnose anemia. In addition to these symptoms, pernicious and sickle cell anemia may have other signals.
Pernicious anemia may be marked by intestinal problems including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, weight loss, constipation or diarrhea, or an enlarged liver. Pernicious anemia treatment will be adjusted for these complications.
The most distinguishing feature of sickle cell anemia is red blood cells that are misshapen, having taken on a sickle-shaped profile. Besides the shape of the blood cells, signs of sickle cell anemia include sudden pain throughout the body, chronic pain, repeated infections, spleen problems, and ulcers on the legs.
Anemia Drug Information
For those needing help with treatment for sickle cell anemia, especially severe or advanced cases, hydroxyurea may be prescribed. This medication is used to stop the spread of cancer cells and to reduce the need for blood transfusions. It is sold under the brand names Droxia and Hydrea and its costs range from $50 to $70. However, discount coupons are available that can lower the costs for this sickle cell anemia treatment medication by as much as 78%.
Generic forms of the hormone erythropoietin for treating sickle cell anemia are not yet available. Brand names such as Procrit, Eprex, and Epogen are specialty medications and costs typically exceed $600 per dose. However, with discount programs and coupons available, costs for sickle cell anemia treatment using this medication can be reduced by as much as 93%.