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Anemia is a low number of red blood cells or a low amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that helps carry oxygen throughout your body. Red blood cells use iron to create hemoglobin. Anemia may develop if your body does not have enough iron. It may also develop if your body does not make enough red blood cells or they die faster than your body can make them.


Call 911 or have someone call 911 for any of the following:

  • You lose consciousness.
  • You have severe chest pain.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have dark or bloody bowel movements.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms are worse, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Iron or folic acid supplements help increase your red blood cell and hemoglobin levels.
  • Vitamin B12 injections may help boost your red blood cell level and decrease your symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider how to inject B12.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent anemia:

Eat healthy foods rich in iron and vitamin C. Nuts, meat, dark leafy green vegetables, and beans are high in iron and protein. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges and other citrus fruits. Ask your healthcare provider for a list of other foods that are high in iron or vitamin C. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.