The condition called hemolytic anemia is caused by a rapid and premature destruction of red blood cells. Hemolytic anemia symptoms are much the same as the general symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, and making a diagnosis therefore depends upon more than just consideration of the symptoms.
Hemolytic anemia symptoms in brief
While in children there could be a failure to thrive, in adults, the condition produces tiredness, shortness of breath, a pale complexion and so on. Sometimes it could be conditions such as pulmonary high blood pressure (which may cause fainting or chest pain) or increased incidence of gall stones (because of increased excretion of bilirubin) that may alert a woman that she has hemolytic anemia. Dark colored urine and an enlarged spleen is also frequently noted.
There are different types of hemolytic anemia such as Hemoglobin SC Disease, hemolytic anemia due to G6PD deficiency, hereditary ovalocytosis, hereditary elliptocytosis, idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia and many others.
Sickle cell anemia and Thalassemia are also subtypes of this anemia.
Causes of hemolytic anemia
Some types of this anemia are hereditary and may be present from the time of birth. For instance a baby could be born with certain protein abnormalities that prevent the normal production of red cells.
Sometimes it could be differences in the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
If hemolytic anemia symptoms are seen later in life, they could occur due to abnormal immune system responses, certain infections and reactions to certain medications and in cases, due to blood clots in small blood vessels.
Diagnosis of hemolytic anemia
If a woman repots experiencing hemolytic anemia symptoms such as those described above, the doctor will typically try to confirm a diagnosis by using some exams and tests. The free hemoglobin count in blood and urine can indicate hemolytic anemia.
Tests to determine the absolute reticulocyte count, RBC count and hemoglobin, serum indirect bilirubin levels the levels of urobilinogen in the urine or feces will help a doctor make a diagnosis of the condition.
In addition tests such as Coomb’s Tests (direct and indirect), a peripheral blood smear, platelet count, serum creatinine, ferritin and iron levels, and white blood count differentials can also help to diagnose the condition.
Once the diagnosis has been made based on hemolytic anemia symptoms and the results of the blood tests and other diagnostics, the doctor can decide how best to treat the condition.
Why hemolytic anemia is important to treat
Unmanaged or untreated hemolytic anemia will not only cause persistent debilitating symptoms, it will also mean the possibility of certain complications that are important to guard against. In severe cases, there could be heart failure resulting from the anemia.
Disease of the cerebrovascular system, lung problems as well as heart disease could worsen if the hemolytic anemia symptoms are left untreated and ignored. Though the condition cannot be prevented it can be effectively managed by replacement supplements, medications such as corticosteroids, and so on. in emergencies, surgical removal of the spleen or a blood transfusion may be needed.