Skip to Content
Home > Health Information > Health Library > Anemia of Chronic Kidney Disease
Anemia means that you do not have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to your body's tissues. If your tissues and organs do not get enough oxygen, they cannot work as well as they should.
Anemia is common in people who have chronic kidney disease. It can make you feel weak and tired. With treatment, you may feel better and enjoy life more.
Red blood cells are made by the bone marrow. To get the marrow to make red blood cells, the kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin, or EPO. When the kidneys are damaged, they may not make enough EPO. Without enough EPO, the bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells, and you have anemia.
In most cases, the more damaged the kidneys are, the more severe the anemia is. In general, people whose kidneys are working at one-third or less of their normal level may get anemia.
Anemia may develop early in kidney disease, but you may not have symptoms until the late stages of the disease.
As anemia gets worse, you may:
Your doctor can check for anemia by doing two blood tests:
Your doctor will repeat these tests to see how well treatment is working.
The two main treatments for anemia in kidney disease are erythropoietin (EPO) and iron.
Both treatments can be given through an IV during dialysis.
Other possible treatments include:
Current as ofMarch 14, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as of:
March 14, 2018
Medical Review:Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
See important information from Billings Clinic on Non-discrimination and Interpreter Services.
Billings Clinic is proud to be an equal opportunity/affirmative action (EOE/AA) e-verify employer.