Anemia of Chronic Disease

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Anemia of Chronic Disease
Personal Stories


Anemia KaleidoscopeAnemia refers to a deficiency in the blood. Anemia most commonly refers to insufficient iron resulting in a shortage of hemoglobin, but the term is also used to indicate vitamin deficiency or blood loss. Anemia can range from mild and temporary to severe and life-threatening. When the anemia is caused by a chronic illness, it is called "anemia of chronic disease."

Anemia: Overview. Many types of anemia exist, each with its own cause. The cause may be an iron or vitamin deficiency, blood loss, a chronic illness, or a genetic or acquired defect or disease. It may also be a side effect of a medication. Anemia can be temporary or long-term. It can range from mild to severe. Mayo Clinic.

What is Anemia of Chronic Disease?

When the anemia is caused by a chronic illness, it is called "anemia of chronic disease."

Types of Anemia by Sherrill Knaggs

Sherrill Knaggs I often become quite severely anemic, but although I started off with the anemia of chronic disease, it became much more serious when my kidneys failed, and I now have the anemia of kidney failure. (Also see Sherrill Knaggs: My Experience with Anemia)

In both anemia of chronic disease and of kidney failure I was treated with iron infusions by IV. I was told that only about 10% of iron tablets are absorbed by most people regardless of whether they have an autoimmune disease or not, so the iron by IV is much better absorbed. I have proved that too, as each time I have had an iron infusion I come right quite quickly.

Generally speaking B12 injections are usually used for a different sort of anemia called pernicious anemia. In the UK, by far the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is a lack of 'intrinsic factor', a substance which is produced in the stomach and enables the body to absorb vitamin B12 from the diet. Sometimes doctors add B12 for other reasons to treatment with iron, but it doesn't pay to self dose with B12.

To know whether you are deficient with this you should have a blood test. I had one a while back, and my levels were fine, though my iron levels were not.

Sometimes folic acid is also needed as this helps with the manufacture of red blood cells, but once again should not be taken without consulting your doctor.

I was once given B12 injections by a doctor, and I didn't need them. It made my heart do very strange things! If you read the webpage above about B12 deficiency you will find more information, including other possible causes of this deficiency. One is the formation of antibodies against the cells producing intrinsic factor. The cells then die and B12 deficiency and anaemia (Also called pernicious anaemia) develop. Maybe an autoimmune disease can form these antibodies. And it is entirely possible for a patient to have both sorts of anemia simultaneously.


Anemia: Signs and Symptoms. The main symptom of most types of anemia is fatigue. Other signs and symptoms of anemia include: Weakness; Pale skin, including decreased pinkness of your lips, gums, lining of your eyelids, nail beds and palms; A rapid heartbeat; Shortness of breath; Chest pain; Dizziness; Irritability; Numbness or coldness in your hands and feet; Headache. Mayo Clinic.


Diagnosis/Symptoms of Anemia. Extensive information, including blood tests for anemia, treatments, nutrition, and specific conditions related to anemia. Medline Plus.


Photo of medical monitoring equipmentThe Prevalence of Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) in Primary Antiphospholipid Syndrome (PAPS). PAPS patients have a higher incidence of IDA and Iron deficient erythropoiesis (IDE) compared to healthy controls. This can be attributed to inadequate ingestion of folic acid and vitamin C. Turkish Journal of Rheumatology. (Also see Antiphospholipid Syndrome)

Watermelon Stomach belongs to a group of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding problems which are referred to as Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs.) Untreated, AVMs can cause chronic anemia or acute (sudden or severe) GI bleeding. AVMs can also cause vomiting of blood (hematemesis) or dark, tarry stools which contain blood (melena.) ISN.

Treatment of Anemia of Chronic Disease

There are many different types of anemia, so treatment depends on what is causing it.

Anemia Treatment and Drugs. Anemia treatment depends on the cause. Mayo Clinic.

Personal Stories of Anemia

Anna: Linear Scleroderma (Poland) I realized that it is not worthwhile to give up, even during the most difficult moments; it is necessary to fight and to believe that it will be better. If I had not believed I would not have been alive now…

Aurora: Linear Scleroderma I am always very tired, and I suffer from pain that will not go away no matter what I do…

Dawn M: Linear/Systemic Scleroderma My family and I were informed by the doctors, that the localized/linear form of scleroderma that I was diagnosed with, would never progress into the potentially fatal, systemic form…

Doni: CREST Syndrome The doctors were always interested like, "Wow look at this," but since I had no insurance, they would not touch me…

Dorne: Overlap and Possibly CREST Since 2002 I have been diagnosed with Lupus, Sjogren's Disease, B12 deficiency, mild pulmonary hypertension, Celiac disease, Type II diabetes and now the specialists are seriously talking about CREST…

Jody: Fibromyalgia/Difficult Diagnosis In Sudan, I was on IV for heat stroke and food poisoning. And in Thailand, at the end of March, it all came to a crashing halt…

Karligash: Systemic Scleroderma (Republic of Kazakhstan) Young, beautiful, full of hope and expectations for my life, for happiness and love — that was me, nineteen years of age…

(Russian) Карлыгаш: системная склеродермия (Республика Казахстан) Молодая,красивая,полная ожидания от жизни счастья,любви такая я была в 19 лет…

Kaycee: Diffuse Scleroderma with Polymyositis The rheumatologist confirmed the diagnosis of diffuse scleroderma on my initial visit to him. Since then, I have had a muscle biopsy, which confirmed polymyositis…

Keri: Undiagnosed I have been living with back pain, stomach problems and skin problems since I was a teen…

Leslie R: Scleroderma, Vitiligo, Lupus, Anemia, Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes He told me that I have scleroderma and explained what this disease is about. After suffering so long I finally got some answers…

Rosie: Limited Systemic Sclerosis (Australia) Some of my symptoms may not be due to limited scleroderma, however most of these symptoms have appeared since my diagnosis…

Sherrill: My Experience with Anemia Since I became ill with diffuse scleroderma just over eight years ago, I have found that anemia is a quite complex subject…

Sue D: Diffuse Scleroderma Pain developed in my hands, then I noticed pain in my knees, then my shoulders, down my back, elbows, hips, feet…

Yuri: CREST Syndrome Now, one month before my nineteenth birthday, I live with CREST Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, acid reflux and anemia…

Go to Associated Conditions: Antiphospholipid Syndrome

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