Anemia Management in Chronic Kidney Failure

When we’re all well and healthy, our body produces sufficient red blood cells to carry oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs. A healthy red blood cell level is one the reasons why we are energetic and can easily perform physical activities. When these levels start to go down, we start to feel various symptoms from its decline. Most noticeable among these symptoms is that encroaching feeling of weakness. We easily get tired and feel lethargic. When these symptoms aren’t alleviated by rest, then you might already be suffering from anemia.

What is Anemia?

In this article, Anemia is defined as a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen. Symptoms of anemia — like fatigue — occur because organs aren’t getting what they need to function properly.

Anemia in Kidney Disease

Kidney disease-related Anemia is basically the same, having the same symptoms and employs the common form of treatment. In the context of kidney disease (ckd) though, anemia is a complication rather than being an isolated ilnness in itself. As kidney function declines, its ability to produce Erythropoetin (Epoetin, Epo) also declines. This a hormone that stimulates and promotes red blood cell production. Without it, or the lack of it, hemoglobin leves start to decline and eventually leading to anemia.

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Treatment for ckd-related Anemia

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There are various ways to treat kidney disease-related anemia. The usual treatment employed for ckd and dialysis patients is Epoetin theraphy. A synthetic epotin is given via subcutaneous (SQ) injection after dialysis treatment. This helps stimulate the production of red blood cells and help keep anemia at bay. There are two kinds of synthetic Epo injections, Epoetin Alfa (Eprex)  and Epoetin Beta (Recormon). They are basically the same, both helps promote to raise hemoglobin levels and administred the same way. What you choose would depend on your doctor’s advice, as he would know what better suits your need and current medical condition.

This form of treatment could be a bit expensive though. Having to inject it after every dialysis treatment can turn out to be a burden in the long run. For patients who’s already striving to cover for the dialysis treatment alone, the added expense of Epo injections could be too much. Financial incapability to sustain Epo therapy is one of the main reasons why the prevalence of anemia among kidney failure patients here in The Philippines are high.

Other forms of treatments

Other form of treatment include transfusion of packed red blood cells (RBC) or Whole Blood. It is given during dialysis treatment and consist of 1-3 bags, depending on the patient’s need or hemoglobin levels. The downside of this form is that the patient could be at risk of getting transfusion-related viruses like Hepatitis and HIV. You could also develop antibodies if you often do blood transfusions. This is something to take notice, especially if you’re planning to get a kidney transplant in the future, since it might cause the donated organ to be rejected.

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Other further options are oral iron supplements and intravenous (IV) iron therapy. What form of treatment you choose would depend on your hemoglobin levels and needs as your kidney disease progresses. So be sure to consult with you doctor or healthcare specialist before taking any form of medication, as they would know what’s best for you and your condition.

Conclusion

Anemia could be a debilitating complication and could be life-threatening if neglected. It is indeed treatable and with proper management you could continue on with your daily lives unhampered by it.

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The information(s) indicated in this article is the author’s own opinions and are based from personal experience living with kidney failure and dialysis treatment. It could and should not replace expert medical advice. The blog and its author would not be held responsible for any untoward outcomes resulting from misuse or misinterpretation of the above-mentioned information(s).
» Blogger | Freelance Designer | Dialysis Patient «

Diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease back in 2003 and has been undergoing dialysis treatment ever since. Loves blogging, writing, graphics design food and cooking, and doing research work.

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