Anemia From Chronic Disease: Care Instructions

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Blood vessel

Your Care Instructions

Anemia is a low level of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Sometimes when you have a long-term (chronic) disease, such as kidney disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, or an infection, your body does not make enough red blood cells.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions to treat the chronic condition that is causing the anemia.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicine to treat your chronic condition exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Take your medicine for anemia exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. Medicines to increase the number of red blood cells (such as epoetin or darbepoetin) may be given as an injection.
    • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can, unless it is almost time for your next dose. In that case, get back on your regular schedule and take only one dose.
    • Do not freeze this medicine. Store it in the refrigerator. Do not shake the bottle before you prepare the shot.
  • Keep all your appointments for blood tests to check on your hemoglobin levels.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are short of breath.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have new or worse bleeding.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You feel weaker or more tired than usual.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.