Normally, red blood cells last for about 120 days before the body gets rid of them. In hemolytic anemia, red blood cells in the blood are destroyed earlier than normal.
Anemia – hemolytic
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Hemolytic anemia occurs when the bone marrow is unable to replace the red blood cells that are being destroyed.
The body may also destroy red blood cells because of:
- Certain genetic defects that cause the blood cells to take on abnormal shapes (such as
sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and hemolytic anemia due to G6PD deficiency
- Exposure to certain chemicals, drugs, and toxins
Other causes are:
Blood clots in small blood vessels
Transfusion of blood from a donor with a blood type that does not match yours
You may not have symptoms if the anemia is mild. If the problem develops slowly, the first symptoms may be:
- Feeling grumpy
- Feeling weak or tired more often than usual, or with exercise
- Problems concentrating or thinking
If the anemia gets worse, symptoms may include:
- Blue color to the whites of the eyes
- Brittle nails
- Light-headedness when you stand up
- Pale skin color
Shortness of breath
- Sore tongue
Signs and tests
A test called a
These tests can identify the type of hemolytic anemia:
reticulocyte count Coombs’ test, direct
- Coombs’ test, indirect
Donath-Landsteiner test Febrile or cold agglutinins
hemoglobinin the serum or urine
- Hemosiderin in the urine
Platelet count Protein electrophoresis – serum Serum haptoglobinlevels Serum LDH
- Urine and fecal urobilinogen
A test that measures how long red blood cells last using radioactive tagging techniques can also help diagnose hemolytic anemia.
Treatment depends on the type and cause of the hemolytic anemia.
- In emergencies, a blood transfusion may be needed.
- For hemolytic anemia caused by an overactive immune system, drugs that suppress the immune system may be used.
- When blood cells are being destroyed at a fast pace, the body may need extra folic acid and
iron supplementsto replace what is being lost.
Rarely, the spleen may need to be removed, because it acts as a filter, removing abnormal cells from the blood.
The outcome depends on the type and cause of hemolytic anemia. Severe anemia can make heart disease, lung disease, or
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of hemolytic anemia.