Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Hemolytic anemia

Anemia - hemolytic

Learn about Same Day/Next Day appointments for Primary Care and Orthopaedic Services at Wake Forest Baptist.

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

Normally, red blood cells last for about 120 days in the body. In hemolytic anemia, red blood cells in the blood are destroyed earlier than normal.

Causes

The bone marrow is mostly responsible for making new red cells. Bone marrow is the soft tissue in the center of bones that helps form all blood cells.

Hemolytic anemia occurs when the bone marrow isn't making enough red cells to replace the ones that are being destroyed.

There are several possible causes of hemolytic anemia. Red blood cells may be destroyed due to:

Symptoms

You may not have symptoms if the anemia is mild. If the problem develops slowly, the first symptoms may be:

  • Feeling weak or tired more often than usual, or with exercise
  • Headaches
  • Problems concentrating or thinking

If the anemia gets worse, symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

A test called a complete blood count (CBC) can help diagnose anemia and offer some hints to the type and cause of the problem. Important parts of the CBC include red blood cell count (RBC), hemoglobin, and hematocrit (HCT).

These tests can identify the type of hemolytic anemia:

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type and cause of the hemolytic anemia:

  • In emergencies, a blood transfusion may be needed.
  • For 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 supplements to replace what is being lost.

In rare cases, surgery is needed to take out the spleen. This is because the spleen acts as a filter that removes abnormal cells from the blood.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Outcome depends on the type and cause of hemolytic anemia. Severe anemia can make heart disease, lung disease, or cerebrovascular disease worse.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of hemolytic anemia.

References

Gallegher PG. Hemolytic anemias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 161.

Jager U, Lechner K. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 44.

Price EA, Schrier SS. Extrinsic nonimmune hemolytic anemias. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 45.

BACK TO TOP

  • Red blood cells, sickle cell

    Red blood cells, sickle ...

    illustration

  • Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells

    Red blood cells, multipl...

    illustration

  • Red blood cells, sickle cells

    Red blood cells, sickle ...

    illustration

  • Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer

    Red blood cells, sickle ...

    illustration

  • Blood cells

    Blood cells

    illustration

    • Red blood cells, sickle cell

      Red blood cells, sickle ...

      illustration

    • Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells

      Red blood cells, multipl...

      illustration

    • Red blood cells, sickle cells

      Red blood cells, sickle ...

      illustration

    • Red blood cells, sickle and Pappenheimer

      Red blood cells, sickle ...

      illustration

    • Blood cells

      Blood cells

      illustration

    Tests for Hemolytic anemia

     
     

    Review Date: 2/1/2016

    Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
    adam.com

     
     
     

     

     

    A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and Google Chrome browser.
    USNWR 2013-2014 Magnet Hospital Recognition Consumer Choice 2014 Best Doctors Joint Commission Report

    Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.