If you have kidney problems, you may feel extremely tired and weak. If you have been especially tired, you may have a condition called anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Anemia (low blood count) should be treated as it can cause heart damage.
Symptoms of anemia include:
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain when exercising
- Trouble sleeping
Our kidneys play many roles in our overall health. One of the things they do is produce a hormone called erythropoietin. This hormone signals the bone marrow to make more red blood cells when we run low. If your kidneys are struggling to filter the blood, they have a harder time sending the hormone signals to the bone marrow, and you can become anemic.
There are a number of ways to treat anemia including medications and blood transfusions. The following terms relate to anemia:
- Hematocrit (HCT) – a way of measuring the red cell content of the blood. Measured as a percentage of the total blood volume.
- Hemoglobin (Hb) – The part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen throughout the body. Hb is measured on grams (g) per deciliter (dL)
- Erythropoietin – The hormone usually produced in the kidneys to stimulate red blood cell production
Eugene-Springfield Nephrology offers erythropoietin therapy to correct anemia caused by chronic kidney disease. We administer erythropoietin (procrit) or a related medication called darbepoetin (aranesp) in our clinic. These medications are given every two to four weeks in our office. In some instances, we arrange for iron to be given through the veins (IV) to treat any iron deficiency.