Anemia is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as loss of blood components, inadequate elements, or lack of required nutrients for the formation of blood cells that result in decreased oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. In most grading systems, adult anemia is defined as a hemoglobin (Hb) level lower than 11 g/dL, with severe anemia (Hb <8 g/dL) being associated with many physiologic complications, including dyspnea; fatigue; dizziness; decreased cognitive, sleep, and sexual function; and significant debilitation.

Clients at risk for anemias include those with family history of hematologic problems; client history of chronic illness, recent infection, inflammatory conditions, surgery (e.g., partial or total gastrectomy); social history of alcohol consumption, endurance exercise; occupational history of lead exposure; inadequate or inappropriate dietary intake; medication use (e.g., prescription/nonprescription, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], cancer drugs, herbal supplements).

There are numerous types of anemias with various causes. The following types of anemia are discussed here: (1) iron deficiency anemia (ID), the result of inadequate absorption or excessive loss of iron, and the most common form of anemia seen in primary care; (2) pernicious anemia (PA), the result of a lack of the intrinsic factor essential for the absorption of vitamin B12; (3) aplastic anemia, due to failure of bone marrow; and (4) hemolytic anemia, due to red blood cell (RBC) destruction.

The most frequent cause of ID is physiologic iron loss secondary to blood loss; e.g., menstruating women. Pathologic iron loss occurs most often from gastrointestinal tract bleeding (e.g., gastric or duodenal ulcers, diverticuli, hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis). Inadequate nutrition, malabsorption syndromes, and lead exposure can also cause ID.

PA is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the production of autoantibodies to gastric parietal cells and their secretory product, intrinsic factor, which is needed for vitamin B12 absorption. Conditions that interfere with the body’s absorption and use of B12 include Crohn’s and Whipple’s diseases, gastrectomy/gastric bypass, and the use of chemotherapeutic medications.

Bone marrow failure can be associated with conditions such as certain cancers, lymphoma, and renal, hepatic, or endocrine disorders that affect erythropoietin production and/or secretion. Hemolytic anemia is marked by an accelerated destruction of red blood cells associated with various causes such as hereditary factors (e.g., sickle cell trait or disease), blood transfusion reactions, acute viral or infectious agents, drugs (e.g., quinidine, penicillins, methyldopa), and toxins (e.g., chemicals, venoms).

Nursing care for the anemic client has a common theme (e.g., physical symptoms and quality-of-life issues) even though the medical treatments vary widely.

Care Setting

Treated at the community level except in the presence of severe cardiovascular/immune compromise.

Related Concerns

AIDS, Burns: thermal/chemical/electrical (acute and convalescent phases)


Cirrhosis of the liver

Heart failure: Chronic

Psychosocial aspects of care

Renal failure: acute

Renal failure: chronic

Rheumatoid arthritis

Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB)

Upper gastrointestinal/esophageal bleeding

Client Assessment Database


May report: Fatigue, weakness, general malaise

Loss of productivity; diminished enthusiasm for work

Low exercise tolerance

Greater need for rest and sleep

May exhibit: Tachycardia/tachypnea; dyspnea on exertion or at rest (severe or aplastic anemia)

Lethargy, withdrawal, apathy, lassitude, and lack of interest in surroundings

Muscle weakness and decreased strength

Ataxia, unsteady gait

Slumping of shoulders, drooping posture, slow walk, and other cues indicative of fatigue


May report: History of chronic blood loss; e.g., chronic gastrointestinal bleeding, heavy menses (ID), angina, heart failure (due to increased cardiac workload)

History of chronic infective endocarditis

Palpitations (compensatory tachycardia)

May exhibit: Blood pressure (BP): Increased systolic with stable diastolic and a widened pulse pressure, postural hypotension

Dysrhythmias, electrocardiogram abnormalities; e.g., ST-segment depression and flattening or depression of the T wave, tachycardia

Throbbing carotid pulsations (reflects increased cardiac output as a compensatory mechanism to provide oxygen/nutrients to cells)

Systolic murmur (ID)

Extremities (color): Pallor of the skin and mucous membranes (conjunctiva, mouth, pharynx, lips) and nailbeds, or grayish cast in black client; waxy, pale skin (aplastic, PA) or bright lemon yellow (PA)

Sclera blue or pearl white (ID), jaundice (PA)

Capillary refill delayed (diminished blood flow to the periphery and compensatory vasoconstriction)

Nails brittle, spoon shaped (koilonychia) (ID)

Ego Integrity

May report: Negative feelings about self, ability to handle situation/events

May exhibit: Depression


May report: History of pyelonephritis, renal failure

Flatulence, malabsorption syndrome (ID)

Hematemesis, fresh blood in stool, melena

Diarrhea or constipation

Diminished urine output

May exhibit: Abdominal distention


May report: Decreased dietary intake, low intake of animal protein/high intake of cereal products (ID)

Mouth or tongue pain, difficulty swallowing (ulcerations in pharynx)

Nausea/vomiting, dyspepsia, anorexia

Recent weight loss

Insatiable craving, or pica, for unnatural food such as ice, dirt, cornstarch, paint, clay, and others

May exhibit: Beefy red/smooth appearance of tongue (PA, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies)

Dry, pale mucous membranes

Skin turgor poor with dry, shriveled appearance/loss of elasticity (ID)

Stomatitis and glossitis (deficiency states)

Lips: Cheilitis; i.e., inflammation of the lips with cracking at the corners of the mouth (ID)


May report: Difficulty maintaining activities of daily living (ADLs)

May exhibit: Unkempt appearance, poor personal hygiene

Hair dry, brittle, thinning; premature graying (PA)


May report: Headaches, fainting, dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, inability to concentrate

Insomnia, dimness of vision, and spots before eyes

Weakness, poor balance, wobbly legs, paresthesias of hands/feet (PA), claudication

Sensation of being cold

May exhibit: Irritability, restlessness, depression, drowsiness, apathy

Mentation: Notable slowing and dullness in response

Ophthalmic: Retinal hemorrhages (aplastic, PA)

Epistaxis, bleeding from other orifices (aplastic)

Disturbed coordination, ataxia, decreased vibratory and position sense, positive Romberg’s sign, paralysis (PA)


May report: Vague abdominal pains, headache (ID)

Oral pain


May report: History of TB, lung abscesses

Shortness of breath at rest and with activity

May exhibit: Tachypnea, orthopnea, and dyspnea


May report: History of occupational exposure to chemicals; e.g., benzene, lead, insecticides, phenylbutazone, naphthalene

History of exposure to radiation either as a treatment modality or by accident

History of cancer, cancer therapies

Cold and/or heat intolerance

Previous blood transfusions

Impaired vision

Poor wound healing, frequent infections

May exhibit: Low-grade fever, chills, night sweats

Generalized lymphadenopathy

Petechiae and ecchymosis (aplastic)


May report: Changes in menstrual flow; e.g., menorrhagia or amenorrhea in women (ID)

Loss of libido (men and women)

Impotence in men

May exhibit: Pale cervix and vaginal walls


May report: Family tendency for anemia (ID, PA)

Past/present use of anticonvulsants, antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents (bone marrow failure), aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or anticoagulants

Chronic use of alcohol

Religious/cultural beliefs affecting treatment choices; e.g., refusal of blood transfusions

Recent/current episode of active bleeding (ID)

History of liver, renal disease; hematologic problems; celiac or other malabsorption disease; regional enteritis; tapeworm manifestations; polyendocrinopathies; autoimmune problem (e.g., antibodies to parietal cells, intrinsic factor, thyroid and T-cell antibodies)

Prior surgeries; e.g., splenectomy; tumor excision; prosthetic valve replacement; surgical excision of duodenum or gastric resection, partial/total gastrectomy (ID, PA)

History of problems with wound healing or bleeding; chronic infections, chronic granulomatous disease, or cancer (secondary anemias)

Discharge plan

considerations: May require assistance with treatment (injections); self-care activities and/or homemaker/maintenance tasks; changes in dietary plan

Refer to section at end of plan for postdischarge considerations.

Diagnostic Studies

Complete blood count (CBC):

Hemoglobin (Hb) and hematocrit (Hct): Decreased in anemias and overhydration caused by excessive IV fluids, bleeding problems, bone marrow suppression.

Erythrocyte (RBC) count: Decreased (PA), severely decreased (aplastic) mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) decreased and microcytic with hypochromic erythrocytes (ID), elevated (PA), pancytopenia (aplastic).

Stained RBC examination: Detects changes in color and shape (may indicate particular type of anemia).

Reticulocyte count: Varies; helps assess bone marrow function; e.g., decreased (PA, cirrhosis, folic acid deficiency, bone marrow failure, radiation therapy), elevated (blood loss/hemolysis, leukemias, compensated anemias).

White blood cells (WBCs): Total cell count and specific WBCs (differential) may be increased (hemolytic) or decreased (aplastic).

Platelet count: Decreased (aplastic), elevated (ID), normal or high (hemolytic).

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): Elevation indicates presence of inflammatory reaction; e.g., increased RBC destruction or malignant disease.

RBC survival time: Useful in the differential diagnosis of anemias because RBCs have shortened life spans in pernicious and hemolytic anemias.

Erythrocyte fragility test: Decreased (ID), increased fragility confirms hemolytic and autoimmune anemias.

Hemoglobin electrophoresis: Identifies type of hemoglobin structure, aids in determining source of hemolytic anemia.

Serum folate and vitamin B12: Aids in diagnosing anemias related to deficiencies in dietary intake/malabsorption.

Serum iron: Absent (ID), elevated (hemolytic, aplastic).

Serum total iron-binding capacity (TIBC): Increased (ID), normal or slightly reduced (AP).

Serum ferritin: Decreased (ID).

Serum bilirubin (unconjugated): Elevated (PA, hemolytic).

Serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH): May be elevated (PA).

Bleeding time: Prolonged (aplastic).

Schilling’s test: Decreased urinary excretion of vitamin B12 (PA).

Guaiac: May be positive for occult blood in urine, stools, and gastric contents, reflecting acute/chronic bleeding (ID).

Gastric analysis: Decreased secretions with elevated pH and absence of free HCl (PA).

Bone marrow aspiration/biopsy examination: Cells may show changes in number, size, and shape, helping to differentiate type of anemia; e.g., increased megaloblasts (PA), fatty marrow with diminished or absence of blood cells at several sites (aplastic).

Endoscopic and radiographic studies: Checks for bleeding sites; e.g., acute/chronic gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding.

Nursing Priorities

1. Enhance tissue perfusion.

2. Provide nutritional/fluid needs.

3. Prevent complications.

4. Provide information about disease process, prognosis, and treatment regimen.

Discharge Goals

1. ADLs met by self or with assistance of others.

2. Complications prevented/minimized.

3. Disease process/prognosis and therapeutic regimen understood.

4. Plan in place to meet needs after discharge.

NURSING DIAGNOSIS: Activity Intolerance

May be related to

Imbalance between oxygen supply (delivery) and demand

Possibly evidenced by

Weakness and fatigue

Reports of decreased exercise/activity tolerance

Greater need for sleep/rest

Palpitations, tachycardia, increased BP/respiratory response with minor exertion


Endurance (NOC)

Report an increase in activity tolerance (including ADLs).

Demonstrate a decrease in physiological signs of intolerance; e.g., pulse, respirations, and BP remain within client’s normal range.

Display laboratory values, e.g., Hb/Hct, within acceptable range.


Energy Management (NIC)


  1. Assess client’s ability to perform normal tasks/ADLs, noting reports of weakness, fatigue, and difficulty accomplishing tasks.
  2. Note changes in balance/gait disturbance, muscle weakness.
  3. Monitor BP, pulse, respirations during and after activity. Note adverse responses to increased levels of activity (e.g., increased heart rate [HR]/BP, dysrhythmias, dizziness, dyspnea, tachypnea, cyanosis of mucous membranes/nailbeds).
  4. Recommend quiet atmosphere; bed rest if indicated. Stress need to monitor and limit visitors, phone calls, and repeated unplanned interruptions.
  5. Elevate head of bed as tolerated.
  6. Suggest client change position slowly, monitor for dizziness.
  7. Assist client to prioritize ADLs/desired activities. Alternate rest periods with activity periods. Write out schedule for client to refer to.
  8. Provide/recommend assistance with activities/ambulation as necessary, allowing client to do as much as possible.
  9. Plan activity progression with client, including activities that client views as essential. Increase activity levels as tolerated.
  10. Identify/implement energy-saving techniques; e.g., shower chair, sitting to perform tasks.
  11. Instruct client to stop activity if palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, or dizziness occur.
  12. Discuss importance of maintaining environmental temperature and body warmth as indicated.


  1. Influences choice of interventions/needed assistance.
  2. May indicate neurologic changes associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, affecting client safety/risk of injury.
  3. Cardiopulmonary manifestations result from attempts by the heart and lungs to supply adequate amounts of oxygen to the tissues.
  4. Enhances rest to lower body’s oxygen requirements, and reduces strain on the heart and lungs.
  5. Enhances lung expansion to maximize oxygenation for cellular uptake. Note: May be contraindicated if hypotension is present.
  6. Postural hypotension or cerebral hypoxia may cause dizziness, fainting, and increased risk of injury.
  7. Promotes adequate rest, maintains energy level, and alleviates strain on the cardiac and respiratory systems.
  8. Although help may be necessary, self-esteem is enhanced when client does some things for self.
  9. Promotes gradual return to normal activity level and improved muscle tone/stamina without undue fatigue. Increases self-esteem and sense of control.
  10. Encourages client to do as much as possible, while conserving limited energy and preventing fatigue.
  11. Cellular ischemia potentiates risk of infarction and excessive cardiopulmonary strain/stress may lead to decompensation and failure.
  12. Vasoconstriction (shunting of blood to vital organs) decreases peripheral circulation, impairing tissue perfusion. Client’s comfort/need for warmth must be balanced with need to avoid excessive heat with resultant vasodilation (reduces organ perfusion).


  1. Monitor laboratory studies; e.g., Hb/Hct and RBC count, arterial blood gases (ABGs).
  2. Provide supplemental oxygen as indicated.
  3. Colony-stimulating factors (CSFs); e.g., aldesleukin (Interleukin-2);
  4. Erythropoiesis-stimulating therapies; e.g., epoietin-Alpha (Procrit, EPO);
  5. Whole blood/packed RBCs (PRCs), blood products as indicated. Monitor closely for transfusion reactions.
  6. Prepare for surgical intervention if indicated.
  1. Identifies deficiencies in RBC components affecting oxygen transport and treatment needs/response to therapy.
  2. Maximizing oxygen transport to tissues improves ability to function.
  3. CSFs may be given to stimulate growth of specific blood elements.
  4. Large-scale clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of EPO in increasing erythrocyte and hemoglobin levels relieving clinical and quality-of-life manifestations associated with anemia.
  5. Increases number of oxygen-carrying cells; corrects deficiencies to reduce risk of hemorrhage in acutely compromised individuals. Note: Transfusions are reserved for severe blood loss anemias with cardiovascular compromise; used after other therapies have failed to restore homeostasis.
  6. Surgery is useful to control bleeding in patients who are anemic because of bleeding (e.g., ulcers, uterine bleeding); or to remove spleen as treatment of autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Bone marrow and stem cell transplantation may be done in presence of bone marrow failure/aplastic anemia.
NURSING DIAGNOSIS: imbalanced Nutrition: less than body requirements

May be related to

Failure to ingest or inability to digest food/absorb nutrients necessary for formation of normal RBCs

Possibly evidenced by

Weight loss/weight below normal for age, height, and build

Decreased triceps skin fold measurement

Changes in gums, oral mucous membranes

Decreased tolerance for activity, weakness, and loss of muscle tone


Nutritional Status (NOC)

Demonstrate progressive weight gain or stable weight, with normalization of laboratory values.

Experience no signs of malnutrition.

Demonstrate behaviors, lifestyle changes to regain and/or maintain appropriate weight


Nutrition Therapy (NIC)


  1. Review nutritional history, including food preferences.


  1. Identifies deficiencies, suggests possible interventions. Note: Daily meal diary over period of time may be necessary to identify anemia related to nutrient deficiencies; e.g., no meat in diet (iron and vitamin B12), few leafy vegetables in diet (folic acid deficiency).
  1. Observe and record client’s food intake.
  2. Weigh periodically as appropriate (e.g., weekly).
  3. Recommend small, frequent meals and/or between meal nourishment.
  4. Suggest bland diet, low in roughage, avoiding hot, spicy, or very acidic foods as indicated.
  5. Have client record and report occurrence of nausea/ vomiting, flatus, and other related symptoms such as irritability or impaired memory.
  6. Encourage/assist with good oral hygiene before and after meals, use soft-bristled toothbrush for gentle brushing. Provide dilute, alcohol-free mouthwash if oral mucosa is ulcerated.


  1. Consult with dietitian.
  2. Monitor laboratory studies; e.g., Hb/Hct, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), prealbumin/albumin, protein, transferrin, serum iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), serum electrolytes.
  3. Administer medications as indicated, e.g.:
  4. Vitamin and mineral supplements; e.g., cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), folic acid (Folvite), ascorbic acid (vitamin C);
  5. Oral iron supplements; e.g., ferrous sulfate (Feosol, Mol-Iron, Fer-In-Sol), ferrous gluconate (Fergon), ferrous fumarate (Ircon, Femiron);Iron dextran (InFeD) IM/IV;


  1. Antifungal or anesthetic mouthwash if indicated.
  1. Monitors caloric intake or insufficient quality of food consumption.
  2. Monitors weight loss and effectiveness of nutritional interventions.
  3. May reduce fatigue and thus enhance intake while preventing gastric distention. Use of Ensure/Isomil or similar product provides additional protein and calories.
  4. When oral lesions are present, pain may restrict type of foods client can tolerate.
  5. May reflect effects of anemias (hypoxia, vitamin B12 deficiency) on organs.
  6. Enhances appetite and oral intake. Diminishes bacterial growth, minimizing possibility of infection. Special mouth-care techniques may be needed if tissue is fragile/ulcerated/bleeding and pain is severe.




  1. Aids in establishing dietary plan to meet individual needs.
  2. Evaluates effectiveness of treatment regimen, including dietary sources of needed nutrients.
  3. Replacements needed depend on type of anemia and/or presence of poor oral intake and identified deficiencies.
  4. May be useful in some types of iron deficiency anemias. Oral preparations are taken between meals to enhance absorption and usually correct anemia and replace iron stores over a period of several months.
  5. Administered until estimated deficit is corrected. Reserved for those who cannot absorb or comply with oral iron therapy or when blood loss is too rapid for oral replacement to be effective.




  1. May be needed in the presence of stomatitis/glossitis to promote oral tissue healing and facilitate intake.
NURSING DIAGNOSIS: Constipation/Diarrhea

May be related to

Decreased dietary intake, changes in digestive processes

Drug therapy side effects

Possibly evidenced by

Changes in frequency, characteristics, and amount of stool

Nausea/vomiting, decreased appetite

Reports of abdominal pain, urgency, cramping

Altered bowel sounds


Bowel Elimination (NOC)

Establish/return to normal patterns of bowel functioning.

Demonstrate changes in behaviors/lifestyle, as necessitated by causative, contributing factors.


Bowel Management (NIC)


  1. Determine stool color, consistency, frequency, and amount.
  2. Auscultate bowel sounds.
  3. Monitor intake and output (I&O) with specific attention to food/fluid intake.
  4. Encourage fluid intake of 2500–3000 mL/day within cardiac tolerance.
  5. Recommend avoiding gas-forming foods.
  6. Assess perianal skin condition frequently, noting changes or beginning breakdown. Encourage/assist with perineal care after each bowel movement (BM) if diarrhea is present.
  7. Discuss use of stool softeners, mild stimulants, bulk-forming laxatives, or enemas as indicated. Monitor effectiveness


    Consult with dietitian to provide well-balanced diet high in fiber and bulk.

    Administer antidiarrheal medications; e.g., diphenoxylate hydrochloride with atropine (Lomotil), and water-absorbing drugs; e.g., Metamucil.




  1. Assists in identifying causative/contributing factors and appropriate interventions.
  2. Bowel sounds are generally increased in diarrhea and decreased in constipation.
  3. May identify dehydration, excessive loss of fluids or aid in identifying dietary deficiencies.
  4. Assists in improving stool consistency if constipated. Helps maintain hydration status if diarrhea is present.
  5. Decreases gastric distress and abdominal distention.
  6. Prevents skin excoriation and breakdown.
  7. Facilitates defecation when constipation is present.






Fiber resists enzymatic digestion and absorbs liquids in its passage along the intestinal tract and thereby produces bulk, which acts as a stimulant to defecation.

Decreases intestinal motility when diarrhea is present.


NURSING DIAGNOSIS: risk for Infection

Risk factors may include

Inadequate secondary defenses; e.g., decreased hemoglobin, leukopenia, or decreased granulocytes (suppressed inflammatory response)

Inadequate primary defenses; e.g., broken skin, stasis of body fluids, invasive procedures, chronic disease, malnutrition

Possibly evidenced by

[Not applicable; presence of signs and symptoms establishes an actual diagnosis.]


Risk Control (NOC)

Identify behaviors to prevent/reduce risk of infection.

Immune Status (NOC)

Be free of signs of infection, achieve timely wound healing (if present).


Infection Protection (NIC)


  1. Perform/promote meticulous hand washing by caregivers and client.
  2. Maintain strict aseptic techniques with procedures/wound care.
  3. Provide meticulous skin, oral, and perianal care.
  4. Encourage frequent position changes/ ambulation, coughing, and deep-breathing exercises.
  5. Promote adequate fluid intake.
  6. Emphasize need to monitor/limit visitors. Provide protective isolation if appropriate. Restrict live plants/cut flowers.
  7. Monitor temperature. Note presence of chills and tachycardia with/without fever.
  8. Observe for wound erythema/drainage.


  9. Obtain specimens for culture/sensitivity as indicated.
  10. Administer topical antiseptics; systemic antibiotics.



  1. Prevents cross-contamination/bacterial colonization. Note: Client with severe/aplastic anemia may be at risk from normal skin flora.
  2. Reduces risk of bacterial colonization/infection.
  3. Reduces risk of skin/tissue breakdown and infection.
  4. Promotes ventilation of all lung segments and aids in mobilizing secretions to prevent pneumonia.
  5. Assists in liquefying respiratory secretions to facilitate expectoration and prevent stasis of body fluids (e.g., respiratory and renal).
  6. Limits exposure to bacteria/infections. Protective isolation may be required in aplastic anemia, when immune response is most compromised.
  7. Reflective of inflammatory process/ infection, requiring evaluation and treatment. Note: With bone marrow suppression, leukocytic failure may lead to fulminating infections.
  8. Indicators of local infection. Note: Pus formation may be absent if granulocytes are depressed.
  9. Verifies presence of infection, identifies specific pathogen, and influences choice of treatment.
  10. May be used prophylactically to reduce colonization or used to treat specific infectious process.


NURSING DIAGNOSIS: deficient Knowledge [Learning Need] regarding condition, prognosis, treatment, self-care, and discharge needs

May be related to

Lack of exposure/recall

Information misinterpretation

Unfamiliarity with information resources

Possibly evidenced by

Questions; request for information; statement of misconception

Inaccurate follow-through of instructions, development of preventable complications


Knowledge: Illness Care (NOC)

Verbalize understanding of the nature of the disease process, diagnostic procedures, and potential complications.

Identify causative factors.

Verbalize understanding of therapeutic needs.

Initiate necessary behaviors/lifestyle changes.


Teaching: Disease Process (NIC)


  1. Provide information about specific anemia and explain that therapy depends on the type and severity of the anemia.
  2. Discuss effects of anemias on preexisting conditions.
  3. Review purpose and preparations for diagnostic studies.
  4. Explain that blood taken for laboratory studies will not worsen anemia.
  5. Review required diet alterations to meet specific dietary needs (determined by type of anemia/deficiency).
  6. Discuss foods to avoid (e.g., coffee, tea, egg yolks, milk, fiber, and soy protein) at the time when client is eating high-iron foods.
  7. Assess resources (e.g., financial) and ability to obtain/prepare food).
  8. Encourage cessation of smoking.
  9. Provide information about purpose, dosage, schedule, precautions, and potential side effects, interactions, and adverse reactions to all prescribed medications.
  10. Stress importance of reporting signs of fatigue, weakness, paresthesias, irritability, impaired memory.
  11. Instruct and demonstrate self-administration of oral iron preparations:
  12. Discuss importance of taking only prescribed dosages;
  13. Advise taking with meals or immediately after meals;
  14. Dilute liquid preparations (preferably with orange juice) and administer through a straw;
  15. Suggest use of protective devices; e.g., sheepskin, egg-crate, alternating air pressure/water mattress, heel/elbow protectors, and pillows as indicated.
  16. Review good oral hygiene, necessity for regular dental care.
  17. Instruct to avoid use of aspirin products.
  18. Refer to appropriate community resources when indicated; e.g., social services for food stamps, Meals on Wheels


  1. Provides knowledge base from which client can make informed choices. Allays anxiety and may promote cooperation with therapeutic regimen.
  2. Anemias aggravate heart, lung, and cerebrovascular disease.
  3. Anxiety/fear of the unknown increases stress level, which in turn increases the cardiac workload. Knowledge of what to expect can diminish anxiety.
  4. This is often an unspoken concern that can potentiate client’s anxiety.
  5. Red meat, liver, seafood, green leafy vegetables, whole wheat bread, and dried fruits are sources of iron. Green vegetables, whole grains, liver, and citrus fruits are sources of folic acid and vitamin C (enhances absorption of iron).
  6. These foods block absorption of iron and should be taken at a different meal. For example, red meat and milk taken at the same time can block absorption of the iron from the meat.
  7. Inadequate resources may affect ability to purchase/prepare appropriate food items.
  8. Smoking decreases available oxygen and causes vasonstriction.
  9. Information enhances cooperation with regimen. Recovery from anemias can be slow, requiring lengthy treatment and prevention of secondary complications.
  10. Indicates that anemia is progressing or failing to resolve, necessitating further evaluation/treatment changes.
  11. Iron replacement usually takes 3–6 months, whereas vitamin B12 injections may be necessary for the rest of client’s life.
  12. Overdose of iron medication can be toxic.
  13. Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach. However, iron salts are gastric irritants and may cause dyspepsia, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort if taken on an empty stomach.
  14. Undiluted liquid iron preparations may stain the teeth. Ascorbic acid promotes iron absorption.
  15. Avoids skin breakdown by preventing/reducing pressure against skin surfaces.
  16. Effects of anemia (oral lesions) and/or iron supplements increase risk of infection/bacteremia.
  17. Increases bleeding tendencies.
  18. May need assistance with groceries/meal preparation.
POTENTIAL CONSIDERATIONS following acute hospitalization (dependent on client’s age, physical condition/presence of complications, personal resources, and life responsibilities)

Activity Intolerance—imbalance between oxygen supply (delivery) and demand.

imbalanced Nutrition: less than body requirements—failure to ingest or inability to digest food/absorb nutrients necessary for formation of normal RBCs.

risk for Infection—inadequate secondary defenses; e.g., decreased hemoglobin, leukopenia, or decreased granulocytes (suppressed inflammatory response); inadequate primary defenses; e.g., broken skin, stasis of body fluids; invasive procedures; chronic disease; malnutrition.

ineffective Therapeutic Regimen Management—economic difficulties, perceived benefits.

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