Black and Blue is Back

I looked in the mirror and what did I see? Black and blue under my eyes staring back at me… and then I realized I’d been seeing them for ages. Hmmm, what could be causing them?

I researched and researched and researched and didn’t really find any answers that relate to me, but did find some that do relate to Chronic Kidney Disease. The biggie was anemia. Let’s go all the way back to What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease for the definition:

“Anemia: A blood disease in which the number of healthy red blood cells decreases”

Need some basics? In SlowItDownCKD 2011, it was explained that the red blood cells are the ones that contain the hemoglobin which carries oxygen to your cells. There’s a bit more about hemoglobin in The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2. There we learned that it’s a protein and that it is responsible for the red color of your blood.

Well, what’s this got to do with CKD? This explanation from The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse at http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/anemia/anemia_508.pdf which appeared in SlowItDownCKD 2015 will explain:

“Healthy kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin, or EPO, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce the proper number of red blood cells needed to carry oxygen to vital organs.  Diseased kidneys, however, often don’t make enough EPO. As a result, the bone marrow makes fewer red blood cells.”

A little more about erythropoietin from the Lung Institute at https://lunginstitute.com/blog/oxygen-kidneys/:

Red Blood Cell Regulation: When the kidneys do not receive enough oxygen, they send out a distress signal in the form of erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates bone marrow to produce more oxygen-carrying red blood cells.”

Uh-oh, what happens if we have fewer red blood cells – or anemia? I popped over to SlowItDownCKD 2016 to find the answer.

“If you have fewer red blood cells, you are carrying less oxygen to your vital organs… which are the following according to livescience at http://www.livescience.com/37009-human-body.html

‘The human brain….The human heart…. The job of the kidneys is to remove waste and extra fluid from the blood. The kidneys take urea out of the blood and combine it with water and other substances to make urine. The liver….The lungs are responsible for removing oxygen from the air we breathe and transferring it to our blood where it can be sent to our cells. The lungs also remove carbon dioxide, which we exhale.’

Okay, so the lungs are responsible for gathering oxygen from the air (for one thing) and healthy kidneys produce red blood cells to carry oxygen to your vital organs (again, for one thing). CKD reduces the oxygen you have since it reduces your red blood cell production….”

Let’s get back to the seeming black and blue under our eyes. While Dr. Mercola is not necessarily my medical hero, I did find an interesting explanation on his website at https://articles.mercola.com/what-causes-dark-circles-under-eyes.aspx:

“Some of the causes believed to contribute to hyperpigmentation around the periorbital area are temporary and resolve after the irritant has been removed. Possible temporary and permanent triggers for periorbital hyperpigmentation include….”

Sun exposure Genetic pigmentation Dermal melanocytosis
Allergic dermatitis Contact dermatitis Edema (swelling)
Drugs Aging Hormones

According to the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, periorbital means “of, relating to, occurring in, or being the tissues surrounding or lining the orbit of the eye, “ and hyperpigmentation is “the production of excess melanin causing dark spots on the skin.” This is not exactly what we were looking for, but notice the last item in the third column: hormones. Erythropoietin is a hormone.

Maybe it has to do with the reduction of red blood cells which means less hemoglobin which means less red color. To my way of thinking, that means your veins would show up as blue. I’m conflicted here. I can’t decide if that’s just plain silly since I’ve never seen a red vein through my skin or if this might be the germ of a thought to be expanded upon.

EyeHealthWeb at https://www.eyehealthweb.com/dark-circles-under-eyes/  lists many possible causes of these black and blue or dark rings under our eyes.

  • Heredity. Dark circles under the eyes can appear in childhood, and are often an inherited trait. Some children will outgrow them, but others will not.
  • Allergies. Nasal congestion can dilate the blood vessels that drain from the area around your eyes, causing them to darken.
  • Sleep deprivation is the most common cause, and the easiest to prevent, but …
  • Oversleeping can also cause dark eye circles.
  • Eczema
  • Stress
  • As we get older, our skin becomes thinner.
  • Iron deficiency can prevent the blood from carrying sufficient oxygen to eye tissues.
  • Minor trauma that causes the appearance of a black eye 

Additional causes for dark circles under your eyes:

  • Crying
  • Lifestyle. Excessive smoking or drinking can contribute to under-eye circles. Also, people who drink too much coffee or who use cocaine or amphetamines may have difficulty getting enough sleep.
  • Fluid retention, as may occur with pregnancy or weight gain.
  • Skin pigmentation abnormalities. The skin around the eyes is thinner, which is why your blood vessels are more readily visible through it.
  • Excessive exposure to the sun. Sun exposure encourages your body to produce more melanin.
  • Age. As we get older, we lose some of the fat and collagen surrounding our eyes. This loss, combined with the thinning of our skin, magnifies the appearance of dark eye circles.
  • Mononucleosis can cause the eyes to appear puffy and swollen. This is due partly to the fatigue that people feel when they are suffering from it, and partly because this illness causes a yellowing of the eyes and the skin around them (this is called jaundice).
  • Periorbital cellulitis. This is a bacterial infection of the eyelid or eyelids. If it is promptly treated with antibiotics, however, it is nothing to worry about.
  • Excess salt in the diet causes fluid retention throughout your body—including underneath your eyes.

Gulp! Iron deficiency (which may be a kind of anemia), excessive smoking or drinking, certain drugs, excess salt. Sound familiar? These are some of the things we’re told to avoid as CKD patients.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

EPO Good, No, EPO Bad

In preparing for tonight’s TwitterChat, Mandy from Libre asked me about any medications I’d like to mention.  I immediately thought of EPO. I remember when I was first diagnosed and complained of fatigue, my nephrologist at the time talked about receiving EPO intravenously.  I think he said twice a month.  And I was horrified.  I didn’t know why; I just was.  It wasn’t the needle because I was used to that already from all the blood tests CKD patients take and the IVs I’d had for various procedures.  It just felt wrong, wrong way down in my gut.  Being a great believer in things happening for a reason whether we know the reason or not, I refused.  And then I refused again.  After reading the two articles from which I’ve taken excerpts for today’s blog, I’m glad I did.

Blood protein EPO involved in origin and spread of cancer

[PRESS RELEASE 5 December 2011] Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have demonstrated that a growth hormone, PDGF-BB, and the blood protein EPO are involved in the development of cancer tumours and that they combine to help the tumours proliferate in the body. These new preclinical findings offer new potential for inhibiting tumour growth and bypassing problems of resistance that exist with many drugs in current use. The results are published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.
       

Yihai Cao Photo: John Sennet

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, and is one of the most important research fields in the treatment of such diverse conditions as cancer, metastases, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and chronic inflammation. The process is also important in healthy individuals for wound healing, the menstrual cycle and other normal processes. Professor Yihai Cao and his team are researching into angiogenesis and its links to cancer and other diseases, and in the present study show the significant role played by a growth factor, PDGF-BB.

“EPO has several functions,” says Professor Yihai Cao. “It produces more blood and stimulates angiogenesis, and we have revealed the underlying mechanism. It also stimulates tumour angiogenesis by directly stimulating the proliferation, migration and growth of endothelial cells and their ability to form the so-called epithelial tube. PDGF-BB promotes the stimulation of extramedullary haematopoiesis, enlargement of the liver and spleen, which increases oxygen perfusion and protection against anaemia.”

The introduction of PDGF-BB in mice thus boosts erythropoietin production and the haematopoietic parameters. In addition, EPO may directly act on tumor cells to promote their growth and metastasis.

You can find the entire article at:  http://ki.se/ki/jsp/polopoly.jsp?l=en&d=130&a=133831&newsdep=130&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter . It is from Nature Medicine AOP 4 December 2011

Then I found a blog written by a doctor as a patient. This is part of that Wednesday, December 07, 2011 blog. You can read the entire blog entry at:  http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a0133f61818b7970b0162fd805711970d

EPO: Lighting the Fires of Cancer

By Peter Laird, MD

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a natural hormone that mediates the production of red blood cells (RBC’s) that is primarily produced in the renal cortex and small amounts in the liver. Studies over the last decade evaluated the effects of  EPO in diverse populations at risk of anemia outside of the renal dialysis patients, especially in patients undergoing chemotherapy for a variety of cancers. Unfortunately, these studies revealed adverse survival with more rapidly progressive cancers and shortened survival. In addition, in the CKD population, patients were more likely to experience cardiovascular events and death bringing the CHOIR study to an early close as well.  The TREAT trial followed shortly with a higher risk of stroke for patients treated with EPO for CKD related anemia.

Many patients sustained with EPO for years on dialysis vocally protested the new FDA labelling changes and the removal of minimum Hb levels in the QIP. Despite the increased risk of cardiovascular outcomes with EPO and the suspected increased cancer risk for chemotherapy trials, the correction of anemia for many patients overcame the potential risks. However, a new study highlighed by Gary Peterson of RenalWEB sheds light on the role of EPO not only in promoting cancer, but it is actually involved in the development of cancers as well:

PDGF-BB modulates hematopoiesis and tumor angiogenesis by inducing erythropoietin production in stromal cells

As a cancer survivor in addition to my IgA nephropathy and dialysis, I have been very leery of EPO right from the time I first started on dialysis in 2007. My first confrontation with my health care team at dialysis came about when I refused to continue EPO shortly after beginning dialysis. In retrospect of current guidelines, I never needed EPO with a Hb over 12.0 with only iron infusions alone. The issue of adverse cardiovascular outcomes and now this new basic science information that EPO is involved in cancer formation leaves dialysis patients with hard choices. EPO prevents the need for blood transfusions and their associated complications, but at what price?

This brings up the subject of advocating for yourself.  You do NOT need to accept what a doctor tells you or recommends to you just because you are not a doctor and s/he is.  Refuse (unless it’s an emergency) and go home and research…or get a second opinion…or call another patient you trust to suggest another way of finding out if you do need this whatever it is you’re not comfortable with.

On the book front, you already know about tonight’s TwitterChat at 8-9 EST at WhatHowEarlyCKD, courtesy of Libre Clothing.  You do know about that, don’t you?  Come join us.  Bring your questions, comments and friends.  Let’s make this a lively hour.

Those of you living in Arizona, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you on Saturday, January 14th, from 1-3 at Bookman’s in Mesa.  The address is 1056 S. Country Rd.  C’mon down!

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

This is what early stage CKD looks like