July 18, 2008, Newsletter Issue #163: Diabetes and Anemia

Tip of the Week

Anemia is a decrease in the amount of iron or red blood cells in your blood, which is partly regulated by your kidneys.

When you think of anemia, you might think of diabetes as a cause. However, studies show that there may indeed be a relationship between Type I diabetes and anemia. In fact, up to 15% of men and women with diabetes also have anemia.

In persons with diabetes, kidney disease or damage is one of the most serious complications.

Kidney function is an important indicator of hemoglobin levels in the blood. Hemoglobin is what gives the red blood cell its color. In patients with diabetes, kidney disease is a serious complication. Your kidneys also have a key role in the production of erythropoetin - the substance your body uses to stimulate creation of red blood cells. So, with decreased erythropoetin and hemoglobin levels the end result is anemia.

Symptoms can include fatigue, decreased concentration, mild confusion and weakness. Treatment options are generally focused on increasing the circulating iron stores or, in severe cases, blood transfusions or administration of additional erythropoetin.

With any treatment, of course, there are risks and side effects, so talk to your Endocrinologist or Primary Care Physician about testing and treatment for anemia.

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