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Side Effects > Low Blood Counts >

Anemia (low red blood count)

Last update: 03/19/2014

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Anemia causes | Resources | Resources & Research News

Anemia is when you have too few red blood cells (hemoglobin) in the bloodstream, leading to not enough oxygen in tissues and organs.  When our cells have too little oxygen, we can feel profoundly fatigued

The three main causes of anemia are:

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Blood loss
(such as from internal bleeding due to low platelets)

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Lack of red blood cell production
(such as from lymphoma limiting the development of new red blood cells in the bone marrow)

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High rates of red blood cell destruction
(such as from autoimmune disease causing destruction of these blood cells)

Anemia may cause weakness, dizziness, low energy, and sometimes shortness of breath. Anemia can be caused by the malignancy (such as lymphoma in the marrow), and it is also a common and temporary side effect of many standard treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. 

Note
:  The fatigue that's associated with anemia can also be caused by depression

 

Reporting fatigue:

Clinical signs of anemia - changes in performance - would be important to report, such as fatigue, shortness of breath on exertion, general weakness - but these can be difficult to be aware of when a condition comes on gradually - which is another reason regular exercise is a very good idea, as you will more readily notice a decrease in performance when you do regular activities - you will notice that you could walk around the block yesterday, but not today. Such reports on performance will be of more use to our doctors as well, compared to reporting "I feel tired."

Causes

Unless treatment-related anemia is assumed, the clinician will first seek the type and underlying cause:

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Production-based (microcytic) most common
 
associated most commonly with iron deficiency, also chronic disease and thallesemia

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Deficiency-based (macrocytic)
 
associated with absorption problems, B12 deficiency,  folate deficiency. 

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Destruction-based (normocytic)
 
(commonly associated with acute blood loss, chronic disease)  

Causes (in order of frequency in US): 
 

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Iron-deficiency anemia 

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Blood loss due to Abnormal Bleeding  (Uterine, Gastrointestinal)
 
Low platelets could contribute to this cause

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Anemia of Chronic Disease 
 
Chronic Renal Failure 
Connective tissue disease 

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Macrocytic Anemia (absorption problems)
 
Pernicious Anemia (B12 Deficiency) 
Folic Acid deficiency 

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Hemolytic Anemia 
abnormal breakdown of red blood cells

Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia 
Non-Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Adapted from
fpnotebook.com (excellent resource)



Resources: 

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About fpnotebook.com | Wikipedia.org | eMedicine
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NEW For Patients emedicinehealth.comm
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Coombs' test for Medline
 
Used to detect and identify antibodies in patient sera or antibodies bound to red cells. 
Used for the diagnosis of hemolytic disease of the newborn, and autoimmune hemolytic anemia


   
 

Related Topics: 

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Biologics | CBC blood test
bullet Is it iron-deficiency anemia? - bloodline.net
 
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Erythropoietin (Procrit) for treatment-related anemia - PAL- biologics
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Chemotherapy treatment support
bullet
Avoiding Trouble - general | Avoiding Infections Page
Diet for Immune suppressed Page
|
Fight nausea
Fight Constipation | Oral HealthWhen to call your doctor
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Anemia Quick Reference

Anemia = too few red blood cells (Hemoglobin)
Causes fatigue; sometimes shortness of breath
Normal range:
Adult male:
4.4-6 (x1012/l)
Adult female:
4.2-5.4 (x1012/l)
Normal range may vary for different labs
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Resources & Research News:

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Anemia of Cancer in Intermediate-Grade Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma -
 Medscape (free login req.) 11_27_02
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ALERT: J&J WARNS OF RARE BLOOD DISORDER RISK FROM EPREX
Johnson & Johnson on Thursday said the number of patients who have developed a rare blood disorder when treated with the firm's anemia drug has risen to 124 worldwide and 1 of those patients died. Reuters Health Information 2002 - Medscape
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FDA APPROVES AMGEN'S ARANESPô FOR ANEMIA ASSOCIATED WITH CHEMOTHERAPY - PR Newswire Jul_22
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Mechanisms of anaemia in patients with malignancy: implications for the clinical use of recombinant human erythropoietin PubMed
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Correction of disease related anaemia of B-chronic lymphoproliferative disorders by recombinant human erythropoietin: maintenance is necessary to sustain response  PubMed
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Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of recombinant human erythropoietin, epoetin Beta, in hematologic malignancies. J Clin Oncol. 2002 May 15;20(10):2486-94.
PMID: 12011126 PubMed 
 
Disclaimer:  The information on Lymphomation.org is not intended to be a substitute for 
professional medical advice or to replace your relationship with a physician.
For all medical concerns,  you should always consult your doctor. 
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