First Time User? Enroll now.
*Vaccine availability and appointments* | Additional COVID-19 resources.
Please be aware that mask-wearing is required at all UNC Health facilities.
Home > Health Library > Anemia of Chronic Kidney Disease
Anemia of chronic kidney disease means that kidney disease has caused your anemia. Your doctor will have ruled out other causes of anemia.
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 not working at the 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 decide if you have anemia of chronic kidney disease when you have both anemia and chronic kidney disease and there is no other reason for anemia.
Your doctor will do blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC), to learn about your red blood cells and possible reasons for your anemia.
The two main treatments for anemia in kidney disease are iron and erythropoietin-stimulating agent (ESA).
Both treatments can be given through an IV during dialysis.
Other possible treatments include:
Current as of:
September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Martin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineMitchell H. Rosner MD - Nephrology
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Mitchell H. Rosner MD - Nephrology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 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.