Getting your anemia treated may help you feel better. Depending on the cause of your anemia, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) — ESAs are medicines that work by sending a signal to your body to make more red blood cells. This replaces the function of the EPO hormone that healthy kidneys normally make.
    • ESAs are given by injection (as a shot).
  • Iron supplements — Iron supplements will raise the level of iron in your blood when your iron levels are too low.  Depending on how you are treating your kidney failure, you can take your iron supplement in different ways:
    • Iron supplements can be taken orally (as a pill) or given by injection (as a shot). If you are on hemodialysis, you can get the extra iron through the fluid used in your dialysis treatment.

Many patients need to take both ESAs and iron supplements to reach a healthy red blood cell count.

  • Red blood cell transfusion — A red blood cell transfusion is a procedure to increase the number of red blood cells in your body by giving you red blood cells from someone else’s body through an IV. This can temporarily improve your anemia symptoms.