How is anemia from kidney disease treated?

Drugs called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (also called ESAs for short) and iron supplements may be used to treat anemia in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). ESAs help your body make a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), which your body needs to make red blood cells. Not having enough EPO is the most common cause of anemia in people with kidney disease.

Your body also needs iron to make red blood cells. Without enough iron, your ESA treatment will not work.
If kidney disease is the cause, you may be treated with:

• ESAs. ESAs (erythropoiesis-stimulating agents) are medications that act like a hormone called EPO (erythropoietin) and help your body produce more red blood cells. This medication is usually given as an injection.

• Extra iron. You may be given iron as a pill, or directly into your vein through an IV. When you’re receiving ESA medication, your doctor will check your iron level regularly.

• Monitoring. While you’re receiving treatment for anemia, it’s important for your doctor to monitor the levels of different substances in your blood. Your treatment will need to be adjusted from time to time to keep your blood levels in balance.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.