What CKD Patients Need to Know About Anemia
Anemia is a common condition for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Anemia is caused by too few red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the organs and tissues in your body.
The kidneys are responsible for producing the hormone erythropoietin (EPO), which triggers bone marrow to produce red blood cells. When the kidneys are damaged and not functioning properly, less EPO is created, which leads to less red blood cells and oxygen available to the body. Anemia is a problem particularly for people on dialysis because of the loss of blood associated with treatments as well as low levels of certain critical nutrients, such as iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, be sure to talk to a doctor:
- Weakness / fatigue
- Heart arrhythmias
- Cold hands / feet
- Pale skin
- Headaches / dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Difficulty concentrating
While treatment of anemia depends on the specific cause(s), doctors often begin by stabilizing iron levels. This helps increase hemoglobin production to improve the amount of oxygen that flows to the body. An EPO injection is another possible treatment. In fact, people on hemodialysis often receive EPO during treatment sessions. In more serious cases, a red blood cell transfusion may be considered.
The team at your Satellite Healthcare center carefully watch for symptoms of anemia and, working with your kidney doctor, help keep anemia from impacting your overall quality of life.