Anemia From Chronic Disease: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Blood vessel

Anemia is a low level of red blood cells, which 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 or nurse call line 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.
  • Take your medicine to treat your chronic condition exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Take your medicine for anemia exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line 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).
  • You have symptoms of a heart attack, such as:
    • Chest pain or pressure.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain that spreads from the chest to the neck, jaw, or one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Dizziness or light-headedness.
    • A fast or uneven pulse.
    After calling 911, chew 1 adult-strength aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
  • You have a seizure.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have side effects of epoetin and darbepoetin, such as:
    • A headache.
    • A fever.
    • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
    • Fatigue.
    • Muscle or joint pain.
    • A skin rash.
  • Your fatigue and weakness continue or get worse.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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