Iron-Deficiency Anemia: Why See a Specialist?

By

Allie Lemco Toren

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Female Doctor with Female Patient

Iron-deficiency anemia is a complex condition with many causes. That’s why all iron-deficiency anemia patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to treat your iron-deficiency anemia successfully.

That’s where specialists come in: an iron-deficiency anemia specialist, called a hematologist, has the right skills and insight to treat your iron-deficiency anemia. Here’s why:

1. A hematologist completes extensive training in iron-deficiency anemia and is an expert in treating iron-deficiency anemia patients.

A hematologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the blood. Hematologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A hematologist will have expertise in treating all sorts of anemias, including those caused by low iron levels, as well as other blood disorders.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. Hematologists typically complete a residency in Internal Medicine. But blood disease specialists receive considerable training beyond that. Hematologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced hematologists and focus on patients with blood disorders, including those with iron-deficiency anemia. At the end of this period, qualified specialists are eligible to become board-certified hematologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in hematology and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A hematologist never stops learning about iron-deficiency anemia.

To maintain their board certifications, hematologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified hematologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in iron-deficiency anemia, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans. This is especially important for iron-deficiency anemia patients, as treatment options have advanced a lot in the last few decades.

3. A hematologist has extensive experience in treating iron-deficiency anemia.

Hematologists see a high volume and concentration of patients with iron-deficiency anemia, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with iron-deficiency anemia, they can add real-world knowledge of the condition to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of the root causes of a patient’s iron-deficiency anemia, help patients navigate potential side effects, share insights about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A hematologist is a team player.

Iron-deficiency anemia may be caused by a multitude of issues, including gastrointestinal disorders, heavy menstrual periods, cancer, pregnancy, and more; that’s why hematologists must work alongside specialists in these fields to effectively treat patients. Hematologists will be able to connect you with gastroenterologists, gynecologists, oncologists, dietitians, and other experts in iron-deficiency anemia management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the condition and ensure successful and sustainable recovery.

5. It’s easy to find the right hematologist for you.

There are thousands of hematologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best hematologist to help you treat your iron-deficiency anemia successfully.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 4, 2017

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