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Anemia of Inflammation

  • Alice A. McCarthy, MBA
Publication Type:


Anemia of Inflammation

(Anemia of Chronic Disease; Hypoferremia of Inflammatory Disease; ACD)


Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low, the body does not get enough oxygen. Anemia of inflammation can happen when a person has another health problem.


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The reasons why someone has fewer RBCs can be:

  • The red blood cells are not living as long as they should
  • The body is not making enough new red blood cells
  • The body has less of a hormone that tells it to make the cells
  • The body is not using iron the right way

The cause of anemia is not always known.

Conditions that can lead to anemia over time include:

Risk Factors

The risk of anemia of inflammation is higher in:

  • People who have one of the conditions listed above
  • Older adults


Anemia often develops slowly. There may be few or no symptoms. Most symptoms are mild but may include:

  • Pale skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fast heartbeats
  • Feeling tired


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests will be done to show the level of RBCs and how healthy they are. A diagnosis can be made based on blood tests and health history.


Anemia may get better if the underlying disease is treated. Some people may also benefit from iron supplements.

Blood transfusions may be needed if the anemia is severe. These give healthy RBCs from a donor.

Medicine may also be used to help RBCs grow.


It is not clear how to prevent anemia of inflammation. Managing some health problems may reduce the risk of it.





  • Anemia of inflammation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anemia-of-inflammation.
  • Ganz T. Anemia of Inflammation. N Engl J Med, 2019; 381: 1148-1157.
  • Weiss G, Ganz T, Goodnough LT. Anemia of inflammation. Blood, 2019; 133(1): 40-50.
  • What is anemia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/anemia.


  • Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.