Hemolytic anemia is a disorder in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made. The destruction of red blood cells is called hemolysis.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of your body. If you have a lower than normal amount of red blood cells, you have anemia. When you have anemia, your blood can’t bring enough oxygen to all your tissues and organs. Without enough oxygen, your body can’t work as well as it should.
Hemolytic anemia can be inherited or acquired:
There are 2 main types of hemolytic anemia: inherited and acquired. Different diseases, conditions, or factors can cause each type:
With the inherited type, parents pass the genes for the condition on to their children. Two common causes of this type of anemia are sickle cell anemia and thalassemia. These conditions produce red blood cells that don’t live as long as normal red blood cells.
With this type of anemia, you are not born with a certain condition. Your body makes normal red blood cells, but they are later destroyed. This may happen because of:
Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of hemolytic anemia may look like other blood conditions or health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider may think you have hemolytic anemia based on your symptoms, your medical history, and a physical exam. Your provider may also order the following tests:
Your healthcare provider will create a treatment plan based on:
The treatment for hemolytic anemia will vary depending on the cause of the illness. Treatment may include:
In more severe cases, the following treatments may be needed:
Work with your healthcare provider to reduce your risk of red blood cell breakdown, and your risk of infections. For example, cold weather can often trigger the breakdown of red blood cells. To protect yourself, avoid the cold, wear warm clothes, and keep your home warmer.
You can also reduce your risk of infections by:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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