If you have diabetes, you may realize that having this condition and its complications may put you at a higher risk of developing anemia. But what do the two conditions have to do with and what does this mean for you?
This article will look at the relationship between diabetes and anemia, and what you should know if you have diabetes-related complications that affect your life.
There are more than
You may experience the following symptoms:
- extreme tiredness
- pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- fast heart rate
- Low body temperature
- cold hands and feet
It’s important to note that some of the symptoms of anemia are similar to those of high blood sugar, including dizziness, lightheadedness, extreme tiredness, fast heartbeat, and headache.
Check your blood sugar frequently to make sure you don’t confuse high blood sugar with suspected anemia. If symptoms persist for a few days or weeks without high blood sugar or ketones, contact a health care professional to be screened for anemia.
Diabetes does not cause anemia and anemia does not cause diabetes. The two conditions are related, though.
However, if you have one condition or the other, you will not automatically develop the other condition.
As seen in
Early stages of kidney disease (nephropathy) may be asymptomatic, but if you’ve been diagnosed with anemia and you have diabetes, it could be a sign that your kidneys aren’t working properly.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop vasculitis. This prevents the bone marrow from even receiving the EPO signal to make more red blood cells to begin with. This makes anemia a more likely outcome.
In addition, if you are anemic and subsequently diagnosed with diabetes, it may make you more likely to develop complications related to diabetes, such as retinopathy and neuropathy (damage to the eyes and nerves).
A lack of healthy red blood cells can worsen the health of the kidneys, heart, and arteries, the systems already taxed for living with diabetes.
Some diabetes medicines can lower blood levels
- metformin; This is one of the most commonly prescribed type 2 diabetes medications to help manage glucose levels.
this studyIt appears that metformin can cause malabsorption of vitamin B12, and long-term use (more than 10 years) of the drug can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency in up to a thirdof the people who use it. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia. It is recommended to get an annual blood panel if you have diabetes and have been using metformin for a long time.
- Vibrate. This type of medication is used to slightly lower triglycerides, as well as LDL, for people with diabetes who are at risk of developing cardiovascular complications. Examples of fibrates include clofibrate (Atromed-S), gemfibrozil (Lopid), and fenofibrate (Antara, Lovibra, Triglide).
- angiotensin converting enzymes (ACE inhibitors. ACE inhibitors help relax and open blood vessels to help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. These medications are often prescribed to people with diabetes and chronic kidney disease. There are several ACE inhibitors, including lisinopril, enalapril and benazepril.
- Thiazolidinediones. Sometimes known as TZDs or glitazones, these drugs reduce insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.
Since blood loss is also an important contributor to the development of anemia, if you have diabetes and are on dialysis, you may want to talk to your health care team about an increased risk of anemia as well.
Anemia can affect blood sugar levels in several ways.
As shown in a
This resulted from more glucose molecules sticking to fewer red blood cells. After iron replacement therapy, HbA1c levels decreased in study participants.
If you have been diagnosed with anemia and are living with diabetes, there are many excellent treatment options.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, eating more iron-rich foods and/or taking a supplement may help. Some iron-rich foods include: beans, lentils, oysters, liver, leafy greens, tofu, red meat, fish, and dried fruits such as prunes, raisins, and apricots.
- If you are taking metformin and you have low iron levels, resulting in a diagnosis of anaemia, talk with your diabetes care team about possibly changing your diabetes medication or changing your dose.
- If you’re on dialysis, it’s best if your doctor injects iron directly into your vein (this will raise your hemoglobin enough for most patients, but know that this may also increase your risk of heart attack and stroke).
- If your kidneys are damaged and not producing enough EPO, a synthetic form of the hormone (rhEPO) may be prescribed to boost red blood cell production to normal levels. However, as we saw in this 2012 study, 5 to 10 percent of people who receive rhEPO treatment develop resistance to the drug. Your doctor will need to monitor you closely during this treatment to help prevent resistance.
- Finally, if your anemia is severe enough, you may need a blood transfusion.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the condition, but may include iron and/or B vitamin supplements.
If your anemia is caused by blood loss, a blood transfusion may be necessary. If the body’s blood production is decreased, medications to improve blood composition may be prescribed.
Diabetes and anemia are closely related, although they do not directly cause the other condition.
Diabetes-related complications such as kidney disease or failure and inflamed blood vessels may contribute to anemia. Some diabetes medications can also increase the risk of anemia. Anemia may also make diabetes more difficult to manage, with elevated A1C scores, false high blood sugar, and a potential risk of organ health deteriorating leading to diabetes complications in the future.
However, anemia can largely be treated with nutritional supplements, diet changes, or medications.