What is Hemolytic Anemia?

Hemolytic anemia is a common blood disorder that is characterized by hemolysis, the rapid destruction of red blood cells. The red blood cells are being destroyed faster that healthy new ones can be produced. Therefore, there is a decreased amount of healthy ones to transport oxygen to the body’s organs.

There are many different causes for hemolytic anemia. Some are hereditary, others develop later on in life. Hereditary causes of hemolytic anemia are, in many cases, caused by a disease that effects the hemoglobin production. Sickle cell disease is an example of this disorder. Other times, disorders that effect the red blood cell production and metabolism can cause hemolytic anemia. When hemolytic anemia develops later on in life it is usually caused by immune disorders. These can include toxic drug interactions, infections and physical damage.

Hemolytic anemia is very similar to regular anemia. The only difference is that the red blood cells are destructed due to a problem with the hemoglobin. Since this is the case, there are two types of hemolytic anemia. Intravascular hemolysis is the first one. This is present when the destruction of the red blood cells occurs in the blood vessels, like regular anemia. Extravascular hemolysis is the other type of hemolytic anemia. This is present when the destruction happens elsewhere in the body. In many cases, it happens in the spleen.

Symptoms of hemolytic anemia is similar to that of regular anemia. Fatigue and shortness of breathe are common symptoms of hemolytic anemia. Since hemolytic anemia causes rapid destruction of the red blood cells, other symptoms may occur. These symptoms include jaundice, gallstones and hypertension.

Treatment for hemolytic anemia varies. What treatment is necessary depends on the cause of the anemia. In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Doctors like to use this as a worst case scenario, but if there was a lot of blood loss, it will be needed. Sometimes, steroid therapy will help treat the hemolytic anemia. Since the symptoms commonly occur in the spleen, sometimes a splenectomy is needed to treat the hemolytic anemia.

Hemolytic anemia is a common type of anemia. It is very similar to regular anemia, but effects the hemoglobin as well. It can be inherited or develop later in life. It is usually treatable, but in some cases, it can be severe and if not treated can cause more health problems or even death.

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