What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Transfusions for Anemia?

The Rhesus Factor set of blood types.
Blood transfusions for anemia can temporarily relieve symptoms associated with anemia.
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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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Using blood transfusions for anemia has many different positive and negative aspects. It is an effective way of replenishing the body’s levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin, and this in turn reduces many of the symptoms associated with anemia, such as light-headedness and fatigue. Unfortunately, blood transfusions have inherent risks, such as the possibility of introducing pathogens into the patient’s blood stream, provoking allergic reactions and causing a change to the recipient’s immune system, which could in turn cause infections. For these reasons, blood transfusions to treat anemia should only be used in severe cases.

Anemia is a condition where the body does not have sufficient levels of red blood cells, resulting in a deficiency of vital hemoglobin, which is required to carry oxygen around to different parts of the body. The deficiency of hemoglobin is the cause of the loss of breath and fatigue often associated with anemia. Anemia can be caused by many different conditions, such as iron deficiency, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease or AIDS. Generally, iron supplements are used to treat anemia.

Using blood transfusions for anemia is a common treatment, and it can temporarily relieve symptoms associated with anemia. Blood transfusions are often life-saving, but they are best used in situations where anemia is associated with a serious underlying illness or when surgery or an accident has caused extreme loss of blood. Transfusions are administered directly into the patient’s bloodstream through an intravenous tube.

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The negative aspects of using transfusions to treat anemia are related to the fact that the treatment can be risky. Side effects can occur as a result of blood transfusions. This is why many doctors and head of anemia-related organizations advise avoiding blood transfusions as a treatment where possible. Anemia can often be treated much more efficiently with things like vitamin supplements. Additionally, blood transfusions do not have any effect on the underlying cause of the anemia.

Overall, blood transfusion for anemia remains a valuable and life-saving treatment in serious cases. Major issues only arise when physicians use blood transfusions for anemia too often, and therefore introduce patients to unnecessary risks. Studies have also shown that patients who receive transfusions generally pay more for their medical care and are worse in terms of general health than patients who do not receive them.

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ZipLine
Post 3

@ysmina-- It's possible that if you refuse a transfusion now, things might get really bad and you might have to get a transfusion whether you like it or not later. So don't refuse just for the sake of doing so. Have it done if your doctor is insisting.

Of course there are other treatments out there for blood disorders. So I agree that you need a treatment that will give you long-term relief. A blood transfusion can help you get through this time, until the cause of the anemia is found and treated.

But don't get repeated transfusion to keep your red blood cell count high. That's a terrible way to manage anemia, you will develop more problems in the long term.

bear78
Post 2

@ysmina-- If you have other treatment options available, I think you should avoid a blood transfusion. It's really a last resort for anemia.

Do you know what is causing your anemia? You need to find out the cause and try to treat that. A blood transfusion will make you feel better for a while, but it's a temporary fix. As long as the cause of the anemia persists, you will again develop the same symptoms.

If your doctor is insisting on a blood transfusion though, you really might be in need of it. Doctors don't usually give blood transfusions unless they feel that it's best for the patient. Feel free to ask your doctor more questions as to why he feels that a transfusion is a good idea. And ask him about what can be done to treat the anemia in the long term. This is a decision that you have to take with your doctor weighing the advantages and disadvantages for you.

ysmina
Post 1

I have severe anemia. I'm taking iron supplements but they haven't helped. My doctor thinks that I should get a blood transfusion to help reduce my symptoms. I have no energy and faint often due to the anemia. Should I go ahead with the blood transfusion or should I try other treatments?

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