Anemia of Chronic Disease
Certain long term medical conditions, such as cancer and infectious and inflammatory diseases can cause anemia. Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low, the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat.
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Certain illnesses will prompt your body to limit how much iron is freely available. This will prevent the infection or cancer from using the iron to grow. Unfortunately, iron is also needed to make healthy RBCs. Over time, this will lead to fewer new red blood cells.
Long term illnesses that can lead to anemia, include
- Chronic infections, such as tuberculosis, lung abscess, and subacute endocarditis
- Noninfectious inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteomyelitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, andinflammatory bowel disease
- Common childhood infections, including ear infections and urinary tract infections
- Congestive heart failure, thyroid disease, and kidney failure
- Cancer, particularly Hodgkin’s disease, lung cancer, and breast cancer
Last reviewedAugust 2014by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.