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What Is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition in which the body produces a lower than normal number of red blood cells. These cells are important because they contain hemoglobin, a substance that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When you are anemic, because you have lower levels of hemoglobin, less oxygen is able to reach your muscles and organs. For some patients, having anemia may increase the chance of needing a blood transfusion.

Normally, the kidneys produce a substance called erythropoietin that travels through the bloodstream and causes the bone marrow (the inner, soft portion of your bones) to make more red blood cells. When the kidneys sense a decrease in red blood cells (oxygen), they release more erythropoietin, which causes the bone marrow to make more red blood cells.

People with chronic kidney disease (poorly functioning kidneys) can develop anemia if their kidneys do not produce enough erythropoietin.

Talk to your doctor if you think you could be anemic. Only your doctor can determine if you have anemia and decide the course of treatment that is right for you.