Anemia is generally diagnosed with the help of blood tests, medical history, and physical examinations. Genetic testing may be used to determine whether a patient suffers from a particular mutation that can cause anemia.
For those with mild forms of anemia, the condition can be managed with dietary changes, nutritional supplements or vitamin and mineral regimens. In the case of surgery-related anemia, the condition typically improves as the body repairs itself and replaces the blood that was lost. Some patients, such as those with cancer-related anemia or kidney disorders, may require blood transfusions, and for those with bone marrow disorders, the bone marrow itself may have to be replaced with functioning donor marrow. For those with the most severe types of anemia, blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants may be the only way to prolong life. Transfusions can also be used as part of the treatment for sickle cell anemia, in combination with painkillers, antibiotics and other drugs, and fluid regimens.
The chances of recovery depend on the severity of the form of anemia and the prognosis of any underlying conditions; often, if the underlying condition – whether it is a form of cancer, a kidney problem, or simply poor nutrition – can be resolved, the anemia itself can be cured. If anemia is likely to be caused by a disorder or medication, preventive measures may be used to slow or prevent its onset.
Because the symptoms of anemia can easily be confused with other health problems, and anemia itself may alert medical care providers to a host of other underlying diseases or conditions which can be dangerous or even life threatening, those who suffer from symptoms should seek the help of their care provider. This step makes early diagnosis and increased chances of recovery from possible underlying disease more likely.