First Time User? Enroll now.
Find Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, testing and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Anemia of Chronic Disease (ACD)
Having anemia means you don't have enough red blood cells. Your body needs these cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Sometimes a long-term disease keeps your body from making enough red blood cells. This is called anemia of chronic disease, or ACD.
Anemia of chronic disease is caused by changes in the body that are triggered by a chronic disease. These changes can include:
Chronic conditions that can lead to anemia include diabetes, cancer, infection, immune disease, kidney disease, and arthritis.
You may find that anemia of chronic disease causes mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. If you do have symptoms, you may feel dizzy, tired, and weak. You may also feel your heart pounding or feel short of breath. It may be hard to focus and think clearly.
A blood test, sometimes done as part of a routine exam, tells your doctor if you have anemia. Your doctor may then do other tests to look for a cause.
Your doctor may diagnose you with anemia of chronic disease if:
Anemia of chronic disease (ACD) is most often treated by treating the health problem that caused it. For example, treating rheumatoid arthritis can lower inflammation, which can then improve ACD.
For ACD caused by cancer or chronic kidney disease, medicine can help the body make more red blood cells. These medicines are called erythropoietin stimulating agents, or ESAs.
Severe anemia is treated with a blood transfusion of red blood cells, no matter what the cause is.
Only take iron if your doctor tells you to. Unless you also have iron deficiency anemia, taking iron does not help with ACD. If your iron level is normal, taking extra iron can be dangerous.
Current as of:
April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Martin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineMitchell H. Rosner MD - Nephrology
Current as of: April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Mitchell H. Rosner MD - Nephrology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.