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Jun 24, 2020

Lockdown may be leaving you feeling a little (or a lot) lazier than before, but if you have serious health conditions, and simply lifting the remote to change the channel has become a struggle, you may have chronic anaemia.

What is chronic anaemic?

There are different types of anaemia. However, all types indicate a decreased amount of red blood cells in your body.

Chronic anaemia is an effect of your body’s reduced ability to make red blood cells due to long-term health conditions. Your red blood cells have an iron-rich protein called haemoglobin, which helps to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. If your amount of red blood cells is lower than normal, your body’s cells won’t get enough oxygen. Red blood cells also carry carbon dioxide from your body’s cells to your lungs to be exhaled.


Different types of anaemia have different causes. Chronic anaemia commonly occurs as a result of long-term health conditions such as inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disorders, or cancer. Long-term infections may also cause chronic anaemia.

Specific health conditions that can interfere with red blood cell production include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • lupus
  • cancer, such as Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast cancer
  • endocarditis
  • tuberculosis (TB)
  • osteomyelitis
  • lung abscess
  • hepatitis B or C


The symptoms of chronic anaemia may include:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • pale skin
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid heartbeat

It’s important to note though that the above are not only symptoms of anaemia. It’s, therefore, always a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any of the above to get to the root of the problem and perhaps rule out any major cause for concern.

Testing and treatment

A blood test, which shows your complete blood count (CBC), is done to determine whether you are chronically anaemic or not. Most doctors will then treat the underlying health condition causing chronic anaemia, depending on the condition.

Doctors may also recommend vitamin B12, folic acid and/or iron supplements, as well as dietary changes if you have a deficiency. These nutrients help to produce haemoglobin and red blood cells.

So, if you’ve been unwell with a serious long-term condition, you feel continuously sluggish and your lack of a tan is not because it’s winter, we recommended that you see your doctor as soon as possible to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment needed.


Chronic anaemia is listed as a one of 16 Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB) across all Bestmed plans. This means that the medical management and medicines for chronic anaemia are covered from Scheme benefits. Authorisation for PMB medicines is subject to clinical funding guidelines and protocols, formularies and Designated Services Providers (DSPs) where applicable. Approved PMB chronic medicines are covered without an annual financial limit.

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