Anemia of chronic disease is often mild. You may not notice any symptoms.
When symptoms occur, they may include:
Feeling weak or tired
Shortness of breath
Exams and Tests
The doctor will perform a physical exam.
Anemia may be the first symptom of a serious illness, so finding its cause is very important.
Tests that may be done to diagnose anemia or rule out other causes include:
Red blood count
Serum ferritin level
Serum iron level
Other blood tests
Anemia is often mild enough that it does not need treatment. It will likely get better when the disease that is causing it is treated.
The condition is rarely severe enough to need a blood transfusion.
Iron supplements may sometimes be used, but only for patients whose iron levels are low. Taking iron pills when your body does not need them can lead to serious medical problems. Do not take iron pills before talking with your health care provider first.
The anemia will improve when the disease that is causing it is treated.
Discomfort from symptoms is the main complication in most cases. Anemia may lead to a higher risk of death in patients with heart failure.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have a chronic disorder and you develop symptoms of anemia.
Little JA, Benz Jr EJ, Gardner LB. Anemia of chronic diseases. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 35.
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.