Ordinarily, red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and they live for about 120 days in the blood stream before they reach the end of their life. However when a person has haemolytic anemia or hemolytic anemia, the red blood cells get destroyed earlier than their normal life span and the bone marrow is unable to make the bone marrow fast enough to replace them at the rate required.
Causes of hemolytic anemia
Anemia can be caused due to one of three different causes: inadequate red blood cell production, loss of blood and early destruction of red blood cells as in the case of haemolytic anemia. Rather than a disease, this type of anemia is actually an indication or symptom of some other problem.
Hemolytic anemia could be caused due to inherited conditions such as the body’s inability to produce enough hemoglobin due to sickle cell disease, Thalassemia or other types of congenital anemia.
Defects of red blood cell membrane production or problems in metabolism of red cells are among the inherited conditions.
Haemolytic anemia could be acquired and could be caused by increased spleen activity or portal hypertension. Burns and certain infections could also cause this type of anemia.
Some athletes such as runners experience this type of anemia due to destruction of cells through foot impact. A blood transfusion reaction could also cause the problem. Lymphoma, systemic lupus erythematosus or chronic lymphatic leukemia could also be at the bottom of this anemia.
The symptoms of haemolytic anemia
The symptoms of this type of anemia are much the same as anemia: Sufferers experience tiredness, shortness of breath, a pallid complexion, and a potential for heart failure.
There could be fever, chills, and general lack of vitality. The bilirubin problems that this condition causes, may result in jaundice like symptoms: yellow skin color, dark colored urine, enlarged spleen and so on. the heart rate may also be increased.
Pulmonary hypertension; which is caused by undue pressure on the pulmonary artery is also among the symptoms of this anemia due to the continuous release of free hemoglobin.
Because of this, sufferers of hemolytic anemia may have fainting spells, progressive breathlessness and even chest pain. This increases chances of right ventricle heart failure which is characterized by edema of the legs, or bloating of the abdomen due to fluid collection there.
Management of haemolytic anemia
Mild cases of the disorder may need no treatment and symptoms may also be mild enough not to be a problem. Severe cases could be life threatening and should receive prompt treatment. In many cases, hemolytic anemia may resolve itself it the underlying factors are treated or resolved.
Management and treatment will depend upon the type of the anemia and since haemolytic anemia has the potential to lead to heart problems and even death, it needs to receive proper treatment. Medications such as iron supplements and folic acid supplements can help. In some cases corticosteroids may be needed. In severe and urgent cases, blood transfusion or spleen removal may be necessary.