Normally low hemoglobin counts
A slightly low hemoglobin count isn't always a sign of illness — it may be normal for some people. Women who are pregnant commonly have low hemoglobin counts.
Low hemoglobin counts associated with diseases and conditions
A low hemoglobin count can be associated with a disease or condition that causes your body to have too few red blood cells. This can occur if:
- Your body produces fewer red blood cells than usual
- Your body destroys red blood cells faster than they can be produced
- You experience blood loss
Diseases and conditions that cause your body to produce fewer red blood cells than normal include:
- Aplastic anemia
- Certain medications, such as anti-retroviral drugs for HIV infection and chemotherapy drugs for cancer and other conditions
- Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease)
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Chronic kidney disease
- Lead poisoning
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
Diseases and conditions that cause your body to destroy red blood cells faster than they can be made include:
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
- Sickle cell anemia
A low hemoglobin count can also be due to blood loss, which can occur because of:
- Bleeding from a wound
- Bleeding in your digestive tract, such as from ulcers, cancers or hemorrhoids
- Bleeding in your urinary tract
- Frequent blood donation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
May 08, 2015
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Hemoglobin. Lab Tests Online. www.labtestsonline.org. Accessed March 12, 2015.
- McPherson RA, et al. Erythrocytic disorders. In: Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 13, 2015.
- Anemia in people with cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/anemia/anemia-in-people-with-cancer. Accessed March 12, 2015.
- Goldman L, et al. Approach to the anemias. In: Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier, 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 12, 2015.
- Schrier SL. Approach to the adult patient with anemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 12, 2015.
- Friel TJ, et al. Hematologic manifestations of HIV infection: Anemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 13, 2015.
- Kellerman RD. Hematology. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2015. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 12, 2015.