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
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 create 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 health history, and a physical
exam. Your provider may also order the following tests:
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
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 for infections. For
example, cold weather can often trigger the breakdown of red blood cells. To protect
yourself, stay out of the cold, wear warm clothes, and keep your home warmer.
You can also reduce your risk for
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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