- Anemia of chronic disease—chronic diseases can slow the production of RBCs
- Aplastic anemia—bone marrow is not able to produce enough RBCs
- Iron-deficiency anemia—iron is a building block of hemoglobin
- Macrocytic B12 deficient anemia and pernicious anemia—B12 is a building block of RBCs
- Sickle cell anemia—RBCs have an abnormal shape that causes destruction of RBCs and low levels of hemoglobin
|Red Blood Cells|
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Blood loss, such as that caused by:
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Bleeding in the digestive tract
- Bleeding in the urinary tract
Abnormally low RBC production, due to:
- Kidney disease
- Radiation therapy
- Lead intoxication
Abnormally high RBC destruction, caused by inherited disorders such as:
- Sickle cell anemia
- Thalassemia—difficulty in manufacturing hemoglobin
- Enzyme deficiencies
- Women of childbearing age
- Women who are pregnant
- Older adults with other medical conditions
- Infants younger than 2 years of age
- Poor diet low in iron, vitamins, and minerals
- Blood loss such as that due to surgery or injury
- Chronic or serious illness
- Chronic infections
- Family history of inherited anemia such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia
- Shortness of breath
- Coldness in the hands and feet
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Blood tests
- Stool tests
- Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy
- Antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection
- Hormone treatment
- Epoetin for anemia due to chronic kidney disease or cancer chemotherapy
- Medications that act on the immune system
- Chelation therapy for lead poisoning
Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant
- Eat a diet rich in iron and vitamins.
- Take iron or vitamin supplements, as advised by your doctor.
- Treat underlying causes of anemia.
- Report signs and symptoms, especially chronic fatigue, to your doctor.
Iron Disorders Institute http://www.irondisorders.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Canadian Blood Services http://www.blood.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Anemia—differential diagnosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T240897/Anemia-differential-diagnosis. Updated January 21, 2016. Accessed September 27, 2016.
Guralnik JM, Eisenstaedt RS, et al. Prevalence of anemia in persons 65 years and older in the United States: evidence for a high rate of unexplained anemia. Blood. 2004;104:2263-2268.
Nissenson AR, Goodnough LT, et al. Anemia: not just an innocent bystander? Arch Intern Med. 2003;163:1400-1404.
What is anemia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/anemia/anemia%5Fwhatis.html. Updated May 18, 2012. Accessed September 23, 2015.
- Reviewer: Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 09/2016 -
- Update Date: 08/19/2014 -