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Anemia of chronic disease

Definition:

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. There are many types of anemia.

Anemia of chronic disease is anemia that is found in people with certain long-term (chronic) medical conditions.



Alternative Names:

Anemia of inflammation; AOCD; ACD



Causes:

Anemia is a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells in the blood. Some conditions can lead to anemia of chronic disease include:



Symptoms:

Anemia of chronic disease is often mild. You may not notice any symptoms.

When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Headache
  • Paleness
  • Shortness of breath


Exams and Tests:

The doctor will perform a physical exam.

Anemia may be the first symptom of a serious illness, so finding its cause is very important.

Tests that may be done to diagnose anemia or rule out other causes include:

  • Hemoglobin level
  • Red blood count
  • Reticulocyte count
  • Serum ferritin level
  • Serum iron level
  • Other blood tests


Treatment:

Anemia is often mild enough that it does not need treatment. It will likely get better when the disease that is causing it is treated.

The condition is rarely severe enough to need a blood transfusion.

Iron supplements may sometimes be used, but only for patients whose iron levels are low. Taking iron pills when your body does not need them can lead to serious medical problems. Do not take iron pills before talking with your health care provider first.



Outlook (Prognosis):

The anemia will improve when the disease that is causing it is treated.



Possible Complications:

Discomfort from symptoms is the main complication in most cases. Anemia may lead to a higher risk of death in patients with heart failure.



When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if you have a chronic disorder and you develop symptoms of anemia.



References:

Little JA, Benz Jr EJ, Gardner LB. Anemia of chronic diseases. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 35.




Review Date: 2/24/2014
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Atlantic Medical Group
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Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

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Atlantic Medical Group

More than 600 community-based health care providers.
1-800-247-9580

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