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Coping with Anemia

Anemia results from a low number of red blood cells. Cancer and its treatments may lower your number of red blood cells, which help carry oxygen to all parts of your body. Lack of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid may also add to anemia. When you are anemic, you may feel tired, dizzy, or weak. You may also have headaches, palpitations (fluttering) in your chest or become short of breath more easily. Your number of red blood cells will be checked often but it is important that you report symptoms to your doctor or nurse.

  • Let your doctor or nurse know how you are feeling. You may need a blood test to see if you are anemic. You may also need a special medication to increase the number of red blood cells. You may even need a blood transfusion if your number is low enough or you have significant symptoms.
  • Follow "Tips for Coping with Fatigue"
  • Ask to see a dietitian for help with food ideas if you think you are not getting enough iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid.
  • Get up slowly after lying down or sitting to prevent dizziness.
  • Limit your activity if you are short of breath. Use your oxygen if it has been ordered for you.
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