Anemia is a global public health issue that particularly affects young children and pregnant women. It affects more than 2 billion people globally, which is more than 30% of the total population. In the US anemia is said to be the common blood condition and about 3 million Americans have this condition. Anemia occurs when the number of healthy red blood cells or RBCs in the body is too low. When this condition becomes severe, it can strain your heart, weaken your immune system, and can lead to other complications.
Additionally, it can also cause pregnancy complications or developmental problems in infancy and childhood. So, to avoid potential complications, it is essential to consult your doctor when you develop symptoms of anemia. Because in many cases, anemia can be easily treated. An anemia test can determine whether red blood cells are diminished.
This article covers all the significant topics related to the anemia test such as the test cost, causes, symptoms, complications, risk factors, and how to get tested for an anemia test.
- What is anemia?
- Types of anemia
- Anemia Symptoms
- Risk factors
- Anemia diagnosis
- Anemia treatment
- Provider locations
For our readers who are interested in knowing the anemia test cost beforehand, we begin with that section.
How much does the anemia test cost?
Anemia test costs range from $49 to $135 in different labs and facilities across the US. Prior appointment isn’t required. You can order tests online by comparing the price or visiting the nearest lab during lab business hours. You will get the results in your email in 2 to 3 business days after completing the procedure. Apart from this, doctor consultation is available for any kind of further treatment or medical advice.
The table below shows the anemia test provider and their prices. You can know more and book the test by clicking on the “Book Now” button.
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Anemia test cost with insurance
Many insurance companies in the U.S. cover all the vital tests like the anemia test. However, the coverage provided by private health insurance companies and national health insurance programs like Medicare varies widely. Most of the health insurance policies cover anemia test costs only once or twice a year and when your physician orders more than twice in a year, you should pay the test cost out of pocket. So, you are recommended to check if your health insurance policy covers the anemia test cost.
Our anemia testing providers do not accept any kind of health insurance policy. However, they can provide you with an itemized receipt containing all the details viz the name of the test, code of the test, and CPT code which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.
What is anemia?
Anemia occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs are disc-shaped blood cells and carry oxygen to the organs and tissues of the body. Each and every part of your body needs a sufficient supply of oxygen to function effectively. Many symptoms of anemia are caused by decreased oxygen delivery to the body’s vital tissues and organs. There are different types & causes of anemia. Some types are mild and can be easily treated, but others can cause serious health complications. When a person develops anemia, he/she is said to be anemic. You may feel more tired or cold than you usually do, or if your skin seems too pale. Because your organs are not receiving enough oxygen to do their work.
According to WHO, 40% of pregnant women and 42% of children (less than 5 years of age) are anemic worldwide. And it is estimated that one-third of all women of reproductive age are also anemic. Although many types of anemia can be treated, they can still be fatal. According to CDC, there were 1.7 deaths per 100,000 in the US in 2017.
Types of anemia
Iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is the common type of anemia and it happens when you are not getting enough iron. Various factors can contribute to lower levels of iron in the body. It may include getting less amount of iron in the diet, blood loss, or having a health condition that makes absorption of iron more difficult, like IBD or previous gastric bypass surgery.
When this condition is left untreated, it can cause serious complications. And it’s important to identify the source of iron deficiency to prevent a recurrence.
Vitamin deficiency anemia
Vitamin deficiency anemia occurs when a person is having lower than normal levels of folate or vitamin B12. It is typically due to low dietary intake of nutrients. Apart from the general symptoms, some signs that anemia may be caused by low folate levels are soreness of the mouth and tongue and color changes in the skin, hair, or nails.
A specific type of anemia caused by low levels of vitamin B12 in pernicious anemia. People with this condition lack a protein that is made in the stomach called intrinsic factor. The intrinsic factor helps the body absorb vitamin B12 from the diet. In some cases, the small intestine has trouble absorbing vitamin B12.
Aplastic anemia occurs when your body stops producing enough red blood cells. This condition is caused by autoimmune activity, certain medications, inherited genetic changes, or exposure to toxins. It also has an impact on the production of white blood cells and platelets. So, people with this condition also have low counts of white blood cells and platelets.
Other symptoms may include frequent or prolonged infections, unexplained or easy bruising or nosebleeds, and bleeding gums.
Hemolytic anemia happens when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them. Many factors can cause hemolytic anemia. It may include autoimmune activity (the body produces antibodies that attacks and destroys red blood cells), inherited conditions like sickle cell disease and thalassemia, infections like malaria, physical damage to red blood cells using a heart-lung bypass machine or artificial heart valves, side effects from certain medications (acetaminophen or penicillin) or even exposure to toxins.
Apart from the general anemia symptoms, some additional symptoms of hemolytic anemia include chills, back or upper abdominal pain, jaundice, or enlarged spleen.
Anemia of inflammation or chronic disease
Anemia of inflammation or chronic disease happens due to underlying health conditions which cause inflammation in the body. Many health conditions can cause anemia of inflammation or chronic disease. It may include cancer, autoimmune diseases, chronic kidney disease, infections like HIV or tuberculosis, IBD, including ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Causes of anemia
Anemia occurs when the blood does not have enough red blood cells and various health conditions can result in low levels of RBCs. There are many types of anemia, and the three main causes of anemia are:
1. Blood loss
The most common type is iron-deficiency anemia, and blood loss is often the cause. Shortage of iron in the blood leads to this condition. When your body loses blood it draws water from tissues beyond the bloodstream to help keep the blood vessels full. The additional water dilutes the blood reducing the RBC count. And blood loss can be acute, rapid, or even chronic and some causes of rapid blood loss include trauma, surgery, and childbirth. More often chronic blood loss is responsible for anemia. And it can result from a stomach ulcer, cancer, or another type of tumor.
Other causes of anemia due to blood loss may include:
- Gastrointestinal conditions like ulcers, hemorrhoids, gastritis, or cancer
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen
- Heavy menstrual bleeding (can be related to fibroids)
- Post-trauma or post-surgery
2. Decreased or impaired RBCs
Bone marrow plays a vital role in creating RBCs. The marrow produces the stem cells, which develop into RBCs, WBCs, and platelets. Several diseases can affect the bone marrow, like leukemia. Leukemia triggers the production of excessive and abnormal white blood cells, disrupting the production of RBCs. And when problems with bone marrow occur it can lead to anemia. Aplastic anemia takes place when few or no stem cells are present in the marrow.
Lead is toxic to the bone marrow and causes you to have fewer red blood cells. Lead poisoning can happen when adults contact with lead at work. And anemia results when red blood cells do not grow and mature as with thalassemia, a hereditary form of anemia.
Other types of anemia that occur because of decreased or impaired red blood cells include:
- Sickle cell anemia – This causes red blood cells to be shaped like crescents and may break down more quickly than healthy RBCs.
- Iron-deficiency anemia – The body produces too few red blood cells due to a lack of iron in the body.
- Vitamin-deficiency anemia – Vitamin B-12 and folate are important for the production of RBCs. When a person does not consume enough of either vitamin, their red blood cells count may be low.
3. Destruction of RBCs
Anything that causes the destruction of red blood cells at a rate faster than they are made can cause anemia. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia results from the destruction of RBCs and it occurs when the immune system mistakes RBCs for a foreign substance and attacks them.
Other factors can also cause an excessive breakdown of RBCs, it may include:
- Severe hypertension
- Toxins produced by the advanced liver or kidney disease
- Vascular grafts and prosthetic heart valves
- Certain drugs, including some antibiotics
- Snake or spider venom
Symptoms will vary on the basis of the severity and cause of anemia. Symptoms of anemia can be so mild that you might not even notice them. When symptoms occur, it may include:
- Fast or unusual heartbeat
- Pain in the chest, belly, bones, & joints
- Problems with growth, for children and teens
- Shortness of breath
- Tiredness or weakness
- Pale skin, gums, or nails
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Sore tongue
- Dry skin, or easily bruised skin
- Restless legs syndrome, unintended movement in the lower leg
Other symptoms with some types of anemia include:
- Brittle nails
- Inflammation of the tongue
- Cracks at the sides of the mouth
- A heart murmur
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- An enlarged spleen or liver
- Trouble concentrating
- Unusual cravings like wanting to eat ice, clay, or dirt
Although anyone can develop anemia, certain factors may increase your risk of developing this condition. It may include:
- Having a diet that does not include sufficient vitamin B-12, iron, or folate
- Menstrual periods
- Having been born prematurely
- Children between 6 months to 2 years old
- Being over 65 years of age
- Certain gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease
- Having a family history of genetic conditions that can cause anemia
- Certain medications or undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat cancer
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Frequent exposure to toxic chemicals
- Being pregnant and giving birth
- Regularly taking medications that inflame the stomach lining (like ibuprofen)
- Having an intestinal disorder that affects the absorption of nutrients (like Crohn’s disease)
- Losing blood due to surgery or trauma
- Certain chronic health conditions like kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, liver disease, AIDS, or diabetes
To diagnose anemia, the doctor will likely ask you about your family and medical history, perform a physical exam, and may order the following tests:
- Complete blood count (CBC) with differential – This test measures your red and white blood cells, hematocrit, hemoglobin, and platelets levels.
- Reticulocyte count – Reticulocytes are immature red blood cells that are made in the bone marrow and sent into the bloodstream. A reticulocyte count is a test that measures the level of reticulocytes in the blood. This test can help doctors learn if your bone marrow is producing enough red blood cells.
- Iron & Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC) – This test measures the total amount of iron that can be bound by proteins in the blood and provides other information about possible iron deficiency or iron overload.
- Serum iron levels – This test measures how much iron is in your serum. And this test can show if iron deficiency is the cause of anemia.
- Ferritin test – It measures the amount of ferritin in the blood and helps your doctor understand how much iron your body stores.
- Vitamin B12 test – The vitamin B12 test measures vitamin B12 levels and helps your doctor determine if these levels are too low.
- Folic acid test – This test measures the folate levels and can indicate if this level is too low.
- Coombs test – The Coombs test looks for the presence of autoantibodies that are destroying your red blood cells.
- Urine test – A urine test can be done to detect blood in the urine.
- Fecal occult blood test – Certain health conditions like stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and colon cancer can cause blood in the stool. And this test applies a chemical to a stool specimen to check if blood is present.
- Bone marrow tests – Biopsy or testing of a bone marrow aspirate can help your doctor see if your bone marrow is functioning normally. These tests can be very helpful when leukemia, multiple myeloma, or aplastic anemia are suspected.
When anemia is left untreated, it can cause potentially serious complications. It may include:
- Extreme fatigue can lead to diminished productivity
- Heart problems like a rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), angina, enlarged heart, heart failure, or heart attack
- Peripheral nerve damage
- A weakened immune system can lead to frequent infections
- Pregnancy complications – premature birth or low birth weight
- Increased risk of postpartum depression
- Developmental delays in children
- Problems with memory
- Multi-organ Failure can lead to death
As anemia can be easily treated, it is essential to consult your doctor when you develop signs or symptoms of anemia.
The treatment for anemia depends on what is causing it. And when it is caused by an underlying health condition, the doctor will treat that specific condition. Anemia caused by inadequate intake of dietary iron, vitamin B12, or folate can be treated by nutritional supplements. Sometimes, injections of B12 may be required if it isn’t absorbed properly from the digestive tract. And your doctor or a nutritionist will prescribe a diet that contains the appropriate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are lacking in your current diet.
And when it is severe, doctors might use drugs called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents to increase red blood cell production in the bone marrow. When severe bleeding occurs or hemoglobin levels are very low, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Doctors may also use steroids for autoimmune hemolytic anemia and splenectomy, surgical removal of the spleen for some forms of hemolytic anemia. Whereas genetic disorders like beta-thalassemia and sickle cell anemia may require bone marrow transplants.
And other types may require other types of treatment. Every treatment aims to increase the number of red blood cells, which will increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. However, some types of anemia do not have any specific treatment and may be lifelong.
Certain kinds of anemia, like those that are inherited, can’t be prevented. Still, it is possible to prevent when it is caused by iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, and vitamin B9 deficiency by eating well. It may include a variety of vitamins & minerals, including:
- Iron-rich foods like beef and other meats, beans, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, and dried fruit.
- Folate (nutrient) and its synthetic form folic acid are present in fruits and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, green peas, kidney beans, peanuts, and enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice.
- Food rich in vitamin B-12 may include meat, dairy products, and fortified cereal, and soy products.
- Food rich in vitamin C can include citrus fruits and juices, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, melons, and strawberries. Additionally, this also helps increase iron absorption.
Apart from this, there are several ways to help manage anemia. It may include:
- Make sure to drink enough water
- Wash your hands regularly to avoid infection
- Talk to your doctor about any changing signs/symptoms
- Exercising regularly (check with your doctor about ways to exercise safely)
- Avoid exposure to certain chemicals, that set off anemia
An anemia test can be done in any of the following locations by visiting the lab near you. To know the anemia test cost, refer to the first section of the article.
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance cover my testing cost?
No, insurance will not be covered in the billing. However, they will provide you with a receipt for insurance reimbursement purposes.
How should I book my appointment?
You can choose the most suitable provider from above and make an appointment by following the instructions mentioned by them.
Can I cancel my lab test order?
Yes, you can cancel your lab test order any time before your testing. A refund will be initiated after deducting the cancellation fee. However, cancellation is at the discretion of the provider.
Do the providers offer result interpretations?
Yes, a few providers may provide doctor consultation who will take you through the results and provide clarification if needed.
How do I receive my report?
To ensure your privacy, the test report will be mailed to you by the provider.
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