CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Normally low hemoglobin counts
A low hemoglobin count isn't always a sign of illness — it may be normal for some people. Women who are pregnant commonly experience low hemoglobin counts.
Low hemoglobin counts associated with diseases and conditions
A low hemoglobin count can be associated with many diseases and conditions that cause your body to have too few red blood cells. This can occur if your body produces fewer red blood cells than usual, if your body destroys red blood cells faster than they can be produced, or if 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
- 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:
A low hemoglobin count can also be due to blood loss, which can occur because of:
- Bleeding from a wound
- Bleeding in your digestive or urinary tract
- Frequent blood donation
- Heavy menstrual periods
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Schrier SL. Approach to the adult patient with anemia. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 4, 2012.
- McPherson RA, et al. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0974-2..00032-4&isbn=978-1-4377-0974-2&uniqId=327813426-7#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0974-2..00032-4. Accessed April 4, 2012.
- Hussein M, et al. Approach to anemia. Disease-a-Month. 2010;56:449.