Rare Disease Education: Anemia of Chronic Disease

Anemia of Chronic Disease

Rare Disease Education: Anemia of Chronic Disease

Editor: Kelsey LaFayette, DNP, RN, FNP-C

"When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras,” is a common saying in medical education that means you should think of common conditions first, instead of rare ones, in making a diagnosis. “Rare” is a relative term though and about 7,000 rare, or "zebra," conditions affect more than 350 million individuals worldwide. Although these conditions collectively affect an enormous number of people,  each of these conditions individually is rare enough that it can be difficult to secure the resources to study them and to develop treatments and cures. Likewise, awareness of rare conditions may be low and health care professionals may not be familiar with their signs and symptoms making it more difficult to reach a correct diagnosis and provide effective treatments.  

To increase knowledge about rare conditions, Osmosis and the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) have collaborated on an initiative to bring education and awareness to the public. We are excited to be a part of this initiative because we believe everyone deserves quality health care, no matter how rare their condition.

Zebra Highlight: Anemia of Chronic Disease

The oft-cited saying,  “when it rains, it pours,” implies that an unfortunate event will be accompanied by more bad news. Today’s Zebra is Anemia of Chronic Disease. As its name implies, this disease accompanies a long-term pathological state such as cancer, autoimmune disease, or inflammatory diseases.

The underlying mechanisms are believed to affect both the production of red blood cells and their longevity. The red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which transports oxygen across the body. Therefore, the resulting symptoms are fatigue, pallor, and shortness of breath especially with activity. Treatment is geared towards the original, underlying disease.

To better understand Anemia of Chronic Disease, watch the dedicated Osmosis video on Youtube and on Osmosis.

Meet Rebecca

What memories come to mind when you say childhood? For Rebecca, the dominant feature of her time as a kid is the hospital and her healthcare team who grew to become part of her family. She has spent over 1,000 days hospitalized and was told several times that she may not make it through the night. Yet, even her Chronic illness could not stop her from bringing good to the world.

When the Make-A-Wish foundation told she could do anything or go anywhere, she decided to create Rebecca’s Wish, an organization dedicated to bringing hope to children suffering as she had. Watch her inspirational story above.

Educational Video:

More Information on Anemia of Chronic Disease

Signs & Symptoms, Causes and Diagnosis


Video and Anatomy