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What Is Anemia ?

Anemia is when your body doesn't have enough red blood cells. Having anemia can make you feel very tired or weak.

Managing Anemia and Symptoms of Fatigue

Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are prone to develop anemia. Anemia is a condition affecting your blood that can make you feel tired or weak. This article explains how anemia can develop as a result of CKD, the symptoms of anemia and how anemia is diagnosed. It also provides advice about how to properly manage anemia with your health care team.

The Kidneys and Blood

The kidneys fill an extremely important role of keeping your blood clear of waste products that develop as part of normal bodily function. In addition to filtering toxins from your blood, they also help assure there are enough red blood cells in the blood. Red blood cells are important because they collect oxygen from the lungs and distribute it to all parts of the body through the circulatory system.

Normally, the kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin which triggers the bone marrow to make new red blood cells when there are not enough in the blood. In CKD patients, however, the poorly functioning kidneys may not be able to produce enough erythropoietin, leading to a shortage of red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells and their oxygen-carrying power, anemia can develop making you feel tired, weak or even dizzy.

Anemia Symptoms & Detection

Anemia and its symptoms usually develop slowly as kidney function decreases and they gradually become worse at making erythropoietin. While initial symptoms may consist of fatigue, weakness and dizziness, as anemia worsens it may result in the development of pale skin, brittle nails, chest pain, coldness in your hands or feet, or an irregular heartbeat.

Some people with anemia may also have a desire to eat ice, experience sexual dysfunction, or have trouble concentrating or performing mental tasks. Any symptoms which you believe may be caused by anemia should be reported to your health care professional.

“Although symptoms of fatigue can be an early sign of anemia, a simple blood test is required to make the diagnosis,” explained Dr. Bradley Warady, a pediatric nephrologist and board member of the National Anemia Action Council (NAAC). “The only way to tell if you have anemia is by measuring your hemoglobin level.”

Hemoglobin is a protein contained in red blood cells and is the component of the cells that carries oxygen. Your doctor can easily measure your hemoglobin level.

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