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Q: What is causing my anemia and what should I do to treat it?

Anemia is the most common blood condition in the United States, affecting more than 3 million Americans. If you have anemia, it means you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells. You may feel cold, tired and sometimes even short of breath. Certain types of anemias can also be associated with tingling and numbness in your hands and feet.

There are several causes of anemia, and the most common cause is iron deficiency. This is especially common in young, pre-menopausal women. It can also be caused by poor iron absorption, a lack of iron or other nutrients in the diet. If your iron is low, your doctor may order additional tests to rule out more serious conditions. If no serious underlying cause is found, iron supplements and lifestyle changes, such as adding iron-rich foods, will likely be recommended.

Other reasons why you may be anemic include deficiency in vitamins such as Vitamin B12 or folate. If your B12 levels are low, sometimes more testing is helpful to understand why.
Additionally, B12 injections can help you make more blood, which gives you more energy. Certain blood disorders that break down blood or affect the production of blood from your bone marrow can also cause anemia.

If you have questions about anemia, talk to your Hoag primary care doctor about the best treatment options for you.

By Pooja Motwani, M.D.