Chief Dietician, NephroPlus
Anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower-than-normal amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the iron-rich protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Anemia can make you feel weak and tired because you are not getting the energy you need. Dizziness, pale skin, shortness of breath, brittle nails, cold intolerance are some other symptoms of anemia.
Most people with kidney failure who are on dialysis have anemia. Healthy kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin. This hormone sends a signal to your bone marrow in the body to make more red blood cells. If your kidneys are not working as well as they should or have stopped working, they cannot make enough erythropoietin thereby not making enough red blood cells. This means fewer red blood cells are available for carrying oxygen through your body.
How is anemia treated?
- Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) which are given as injections — ESAs are medicines that work by sending a signal to your body to make more red blood cells. This replaces the function of the erythropoietin hormone that healthy kidneys normally make.
- Iron Supplements which are given in the form of pills or injection to raise the level of iron in your body
- Blood Transfusion
Can I increase my haemoglobin through diet alone?
The answer is definitely a NO. Most of the foods which are iron-rich such as jaggery, ragi,non-vegetarian foods, green leafy vegetables, etc are high in potassium and phosphorus and may have other side effects if consumed. One can consume Guava which is a moderately good source of vitamin C which will increase iron absorption, Black Jamun which is now in season also has known to increase hemoglobin. Rajigira/Amaranthus powder can also be mixed in your wheat flour in the right proportions to increase iron. Talk to your dietician to get advice on what suits you the best and get available options.