Managing Anemia and Chronic Kidney Disease: What You Should Know

Did you know that anemia is a common side effect of chronic kidney disease (CKD)? If your kidneys aren’t working the way they should, it could affect your body’s ability to make red blood cells, causing anemia. Managing multiple health conditions can be challenging. Here’s some key information about anemia and chronic kidney disease that you may consider discussing with your care team.

What is anemia and how do I know if I have it?

Anemia is a condition that occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. These cells play an essential role in the body, carrying oxygen from your lungs to all other organs and tissues—which gives you energy and helps your body function properly. 

If your body isn’t making enough healthy red blood cells due to CKD, you may experience a number of symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness, loss of concentration, or headaches
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Feeling tired, weak, or cold
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

Tell your care team if you have any symptoms or if you recently had:

  • Blood loss
  • Dental work
  • Hospitalization
  • Infection
  • Surgery
  • Vomiting

What causes anemia in chronic kidney disease?

The body is constantly replacing old cells with new ones. Healthy kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin that tells your body when it’s time to make new red blood cells. If your kidneys don’t function properly, they won’t make normal amounts of erythropoietin. Low erythropoietin and chronic kidney disease can cause your red blood cell count to drop and symptoms of anemia to develop.

How are anemia and chronic kidney disease treated?

Treating anemia when you have chronic kidney disease may help you feel healthier.

  • Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs)—Medicines that replace the erythropoietin your kidneys aren’t producing, helping your body make new red blood cells.
  • Iron supplement therapy—An iron supplement in the form of a pill or infusion may also be needed to help make red blood cells, especially when you are receiving ESAs.

Knowing your levels

Your anemia is monitored through a hemoglobin blood test taken with your labs. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and helps carry oxygen throughout your body. If your iron is low, your body will not be able to form enough hemoglobin, which helps determine how well you are managing your anemia.

Keeping you at your healthiest

Your care team at Fresenius Kidney Care is here to ensure you feel your healthiest every day. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anemia, talk to your care team as soon as possible. We’ll help check your iron levels and create a treatment plan that makes sense for you—so you can feel like a healthier, livelier you.

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