Anemia of chronic diseaseAnemia of inflammation; Inflammatory anemia; AOCD; ACD
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. There are many types of anemia.
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. Different type...
Anemia of chronic disease (ACD) is anemia that is found in people with certain long-term (chronic) medical conditions that involve inflammation.
Anemia is a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells in the blood. ACD is a common cause of anemia. Some conditions that can lead to ACD include:
- Autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis
An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake. There are more than 80 types of aut...
Crohn disease is a disease where parts of the digestive tract become inflamed. It most often involves the lower end of the small intestine and the be...
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. In this disease, the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It c...
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It is a long-term disease. It can also aff...
- Cancer, including lymphoma and Hodgkin disease
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancerous cells are also called malignant cells.
- Long-term infections, such as bacterial endocarditis, osteomyelitis (bone infection), HIV/AIDS, lung abscess, hepatitis B or hepatitis C
Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. It is mainly caused by bacteria or other germs.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus attacks and weakens the immune ...
Hepatitis B is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the liver due to infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Other types of viral hepatitis ...
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 health care provider 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:
- Complete blood count
- Reticulocyte count
- Serum ferritin level
- Serum iron level
- Bone marrow examination (in rare cases to rule out cancer)
Anemia is often mild enough that it does not need treatment. It may get better when the disease that is causing it is treated.
More severe anemia, such as that caused by chronic kidney disease, cancer, or HIV/AIDS may require:
- Blood transfusion
- Iron given through a vein
- Erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys, given as a shot
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 for death in people with heart failure.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you have a long-term (chronic) disorder and you develop symptoms of anemia.
Bunn HF. Approach to the anemias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 158.
Nayak L, Gardner LB, Little JA. Anemia of chronic diseases. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 37.
Review Date: 1/19/2018
Reviewed By: Richard LoCicero, MD, private practice specializing in hematology and medical oncology, Longstreet Cancer Center, Gainesville, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.