Type 2 Diabetes – Anemia and Diabetes: Is There a Link?

Type 2 Diabetes – Anemia and Diabetes: Is There a Link?

Anemia is a very common problem seen worldwide, and is actually seen in up to 25 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes. The World Health Organization defines anemia as being a decrease in the hemoglobin concentration; below 13 gm/dl (grams per deciliter) for men and less than 12 gm/dl for women.

Although the global cause of anemia is iron-deficiency anemia, the most common cause of anemia in diabetic patients is chronic kidney disease, the end-stage kidney problem.

What are the common symptoms of anemia?

According to John Hopkins Point-of-Care Information Technology Center, (The John Hokins POC-IT Center), the most common causes of anemia include:


weakness and fatigue,

shortness of breath with activity,


occasional chest pains, and

cold, clammy skin.

Having nerve pain may also point to the presence of this problem.

Can hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) values give some clues to the type of anemia?

As mentioned by The John Hopkins POC-IT Center, your hemoglobin A1c value can give some clues to the type of anemia you may have. A low-level of HbA1c may indicate hemolytic anemia, a type of anemia which results in the bursting of red blood cells. On the other hand, an increased HbA1c value may point to iron deficiency anemia.

Which conditions can increase a diabetic’s level of anemia?

Bleeding due to gastrointestinal problems and even bleeding during the menstrual cycle may also worsen anemia. Restrictive diets such as adopting a pure vegan diet may also lead to anemia.

Which conditions mask anemia in diabetes?

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Increased blood sugar levels cause dehydration of cells. Dehydration results in the masking of anemia. Another possible cause of the masking of anemia in diabetes is a recent blood transfusion. A blood transfusion can often lead to the wrong interpretation of the results of a diabetic’s red blood cell laboratory tests, leading to much confusion.

What is recommended for diabetics suspected of having anemia?

diabetics who have an extremely low hemoglobin A1C level should undergo blood tests to rule out the presence of hemolytic anemia.

periodic complete blood counts are essential for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. A decreased blood count value may indicate decreased kidney function, and in the worst cases, renal failure.

severe symptomatic anemia is a serious problem. A blood transfusion is the only, but essential treatment to correct this problem.

if chronic renal failure occurs because of diabetes, initiation of erythropoietin treatment, the hormone secreted by normal kidneys to stimulate blood production by bones, is necessary.

Research has shown that diabetics with good control of both their blood sugar and blood pressure have a much lower chance of developing kidney damage. Removing the risk of kidney disease will remove your risk of developing anemia.