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Anemia is a lack of red blood cells in your body. Anemia is often a complication of chronic kidney disease.



  • Anemia often starts to show during early stages of kidney disease and get progressively more common at later stages.
  • You are at a higher risk if you are over 75 years-old, African American, and/or have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.


  • Anemia and iron deficiencies can go hand-in-hand. 

What is anemia?  

One of the significant consequences of chronic kidney disease (reduced kidney function) is anemia, which is the lack of red blood cells.

How does kidney disease cause anemia?  

Red blood cells are important as they carry oxygen throughout your body. Being anemic can cause you to feel weak, tired, and even short of breath.

Our kidneys are the organs that produce erythropoietin, a hormone that signals the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. When kidney disease progresses, erythropoietin production can slow down. When this occurs, fewer red blood cells are produced, resulting in anemia.

Iron levels are also important in the steps needed for red blood cell production. Erythropoietin and iron work together to produce red blood cells.

Symptoms of anemia 

Anemia symptoms can include:

  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light headedness
  • Feeling cold

What to Expect from Anemia Treatment 

Your nephrologist will monitor your kidney levels, as well as blood levels of iron and hemoglobin(a measure of anemia). Supplements can be prescribed as necessary to replace both iron stores and substitute forms of erythropoietin can be prescribed as treatment to help with symptoms and to treat low levels.


Anemia FAQs

Go to NIH.Gov

Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease

Go to American Kidney Fund

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