How to know if you have Anemia (Tests and Diagnosis)

Saturday, April 14th, 2018 - Tips

How is Anemia diagnosed?


Doctors diagnose anemia based on the patient’s medical and family history, medical examination and the results of tests and procedures.

As anemia does not always produce symptoms, the doctor may discover the same when testing for another disease.

Medical and Family Histories

Your doctor may ask if you have any of the signs or symptoms of anemia. You may ask if you have had a disease or health problem that can cause anemia.

Tell your doctor what medicines you take, what you normally eat (the type of food you eat) and if any of your relatives have anemia or a history of this disease.

Medical exam

The doctor will do an exam to determine how severe the anemia is and investigate possible causes. The medical examination may consist of the following:

  • Hear the heart to see if the beats are fast or irregular
  • Hear the lungs to see if breathing is rapid or irregular
  • Palpate the abdomen to see the size of the liver and spleen

The doctor may also do a pelvic or rectal exam to look for common sources of blood loss.

Tests and diagnostic procedures

You may need to take several blood tests and other tests or procedures to find out what type of anemia you have and how severe it is.

Complete blood count

Usually, the first test used to diagnose anemia is a complete blood count test, in which different parts of the blood are examined.

The complete blood levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit are determined. Hemoglobin is the iron-rich protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body. The hematocrit is a measure of the percentage of the blood represented by red blood cells. A low hemoglobin or hematocrit is a sign of anemia.

The normal range of these levels may be lower in certain racial and ethnic populations. Your doctor can explain the results of their tests.

In the blood count the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets is also determined. Abnormal results may be a sign of anemia, other blood disorder, infection or other disease.

Finally, in the blood count mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is determined. The VCM is a measure of the average size of red blood cells and is a track cause of anemia. For example, in the anemia iron deficient red blood cells are usually  smaller than normal.

Other tests and procedures

If the CBC results show that you have anemia, you may need other tests, such as:

  • Hemoglobin electrophoresis : This test evaluates the different types of hemoglobin in the blood. It can serve to diagnose the type of anemia.
  • Reticulocyte count: This test determines the amount of immature red blood cells (reticulocytes) of blood. Displays whether the bone marrow is producing red blood cells at the proper rate.
  • Tests to determine the concentrations of iron in the blood and body. These include serum iron and serum ferritin. Transferring and total iron uptake capacity are also tests that measure iron concentrations.

As the anemia has many causes, they could also do tests for diseases such as kidney failure, lead poisoning (in children) and vitamin deficiencies (B12, folic acid).

If the doctor thinks that you have anemia because of internal bleeding, perhaps to order several tests to investigate the source of bleeding. In the doctor’s office or at home could give a test to check for blood in the stool. The doctor can give you a kit or kit to pick up a stool sample at home and will tell you to take her to the office or send it to a laboratory.

If blood is found in the stool, you might have other tests to determine the source of bleeding.One such test is endoscopy, in which a tube with a tiny camera is used to examine the lining of the digestive tract.

The doctor may want to test bone marrow . These tests show whether the bone marrow is healthy and producing enough blood cells.