Dr. M.J. Bazos MD,
What is normocytic anemia?
Normocytic anemia is the most common type of
anemia. It is a blood problem. It means you have normal-sized red blood cells,
but you have a low number of them.The presence of normal-sized red blood cells
tells your doctor that you have normocytic anemia rather than another kind of
anemia. For example, when anemia is caused by having too little iron in your
diet, you have small red blood cells.
What causes normocytic anemia?
Normocytic anemia can be a problem you were born
with (called congenital) or it can be caused by an infection or disease (called
Congenital normocytic anemia is caused by the
breaking up of red blood cells. Sickle cell disease is a congenital disorder of
red blood cells.
The most common cause of the acquired form of
normocytic anemia is a long-term (chronic) disease. Chronic diseases that can
cause normocytic anemia include kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and
thyroiditis. Some medicines can cause you to have normocytic anemia, but this
does not happen often.
What are the signs of normocytic anemia?
Normocytic anemia usually starts slowly. It
doesn't have many signs at first. You may find yourself getting tired easily.
You may look pale. If the anemia starts more suddenly or gets really bad, you
might feel dizzy or weak.
How does my doctor find out that I have
Most often, normocytic anemia is found on
routine tests that are part of a physical exam. It might be found on a blood
test you get for some other reason. A complete blood count (also called a CBC)
can show if you have normocytic anemia.
If your CBC shows a low number of normal-sized
red blood cells, your doctor might want you to get more tests to see what is
causing the anemia. If the cause is inherited, other family members may also
need to be tested.
How is normocytic anemia treated?
When possible, fixing the condition that is
causing the anemia is the most important part of treating it. This might mean
you would stop taking a particular medicine, or your doctor might treat a
chronic illness or look for something that is causing you to lose blood.
If your normocytic anemia is very bad, you might
get shots of erythropoietin (brand name: Epogen, Procrit). Erythropoietin (say:
"air-rith-ro-po-et-in") helps your bone marrow make more red blood cells.
Talk to your doctor before you take extra iron
pills or vitamins. Too much iron is not good for you.