Anemia is a condition people experience when their bodies are not able to keep up with red blood cell production, usually due to a lack of iron in the body. Since red blood cells carry the oxygen a body needs for proper respiration, the end result of anemia is extreme fatigue and weakness.
Anemia is common in the early stages of chronic kidney disease and gets progressively worse as kidney function decreases. Patients who are on dialysis also lose additional iron during treatments, making anemia management an even bigger concern.
The easy answer appears to be to just increase iron intake via iron-rich foods and supplements. However, since iron is stored in the liver, it can become toxic if not utilized, causing inflammation and an increased risk of infection.
Therefore, it is very important that doctors treating anemia patients fully understand the cause of the iron deficiency and determine the iron levels each patient is experiencing.
The kidney doctors at Peninsula Kidney Associates will review their patients’ blood work, take into account the overall health and needs of each patient, and may prescribe a series of injections of something called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) that increase the production of red blood cells in the body.
However, Vitamin B-12 and folic acid levels must also be at normal levels in the blood stream for proper red blood cell production to occur. Doctors will normally recheck a patient’s blood work after starting ESA treatments to see if red blood cell production has increased and is helping relieve fatigue. If not, other treatment methods may be examined.
If you are experiencing unexplained and chronic fatigue, overall body weakness or dizziness, make an appointment with the physicians at Peninsula Kidney Associates immediately. Relief may just be a phone call away.