Hemolytic Anemia : Causes and Symptoms
November 4, 2023
Hemolytic Anemia : Causes and Symptoms
Hemolytic anaemia refers to a type of anaemia whereby there is enhanced breakdown of red blood cells, thus lowering the lifespan of the red blood cells. However, there are many causes for this, including genetic defects in RBC components, infections, autoimmune diseases, prescribed drugs, and external factors such as environmental pollutants or physical injuries.
Symptoms that include tiredness, paleness, jaundice (yellow skin and yellow eyes), and rapid heartbeat all stem from the quick rupture of red blood cells. In most cases, treatment is dependent on the underlying cause and involves the use of drugs, blood transfusion, or, more rarely, the surgical removal of the spleen. Proper treatment of hemolytic anaemia involves identifying and managing the root cause.
Table of Contents
- Hemolytic anemia
- Signs of hemolytic anemia
- Diagnosis of hemolytic anemia
- Causes of hemolytic anemia
- Treatment for Hemolytic anemia
- Frequently asked questions
Signs of Hemolytic anemia
Sometimes a feeling of being extremely sleepy or weak is caused by a low content of blood able to transport oxygen to tissues.
Pale complexion is caused by the lower counts of blood cells.
Bilirubin is a waste product of red blood cell breakdown. Due to excessive red blood cell breakdown, the body might not be able to process it, hence leading to yellowing of the skin and eyes.
The presence of excess bilirubin in the urine causes a dark discolouration that is due to the increase in the breakdown of red blood cells.
The enlargement of the spleen is an indication that it works towards the removal of damaged red blood cells from the general circulation.
Rapid heart rate
The high rate of the heart is a body’s attempt to increase its ability to carry more oxygen.
Shortness of breath
In the extreme form, a patient can suffer from shortness of breath, especially during exertion, where inadequate oxygen transportation might be involved.
In case you have these symptoms or know someone having them, you should seek for medical care and comprehensive evaluation leading to proper treatment.
Diagnosis of hemolytic anemia
A physical examination, laboratory testing, and occasionally radiology for imaging studies are used to diagnose hemolytic anemia. A healthcare provider may perform the following to diagnose hemolytic anemia:
Medical history and physical examination
Assessment of the patient’s medical history as well as taking a thorough physical examination, can identify the causes of the anemia in most instances.
They include, possibly, a complete blood count (CBC) for assessing the levels/counts of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, and a peripheral blood smear examination of red blood cells to find out any abnormalities. The rate of red cell formation and degradation may be ascertained with the help of additional tests like the reticulocyte count, serum haptoglobin, and LDH level.
The presence of a high level of bilirubin in the blood can mean that red blood cells are broken more than normal, hence releasing hemoglobin, which is converted to bilirubin.
Coombs test: This assay is useful for detecting antibodies or complement proteins that might result in the breakdown of erythrocytes.
Other tests could be conducted, depending on the suspected cause, such as a blood smear to observe the morphology and features of the red blood cells, genetic testing or tests that would point out autoimmune abnormalities or underlying infections.
It is also possible that imaging studies like sonography or CT scans might be carried out to determine the condition of the spleen as well as other sources of hemolysis.
Once a particular cause related to hemolytic anemia is recognised, proper measures can be taken to handle the anemia and correct the underlying cause. A person should seek medical advice from a healthcare practitioner for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Causes of hemolytic anemia
hemolytic anemia cause scan be categorised into several key factors, including:
- Inherited Conditions: Genetic mutations lead to abnormalities that may cause hemolytic anemia in red blood cell structure or function. Among others are sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and hereditary spherocytosis.
- Autoimmune Disorders: Autoimmune disorders, in which the immune system attacks the red blood cells, may lead to hemolytic anemia. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is one example.
- Infections: There are some infections that can result in hemolytic anemia, such as malaria or bacterial infections like Clostridium perfringens, which may destroy the red blood cells.
- Medications: Some antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs can cause hemolytic anemia among susceptible individuals.
- Toxins and Chemicals: Hemolytic anemia is caused by the destruction of red blood cells as a result of exposure to various toxins, chemicals, or venoms, such as snake bites.
- Enzyme Deficiencies: RBCs are vulnerable to hemolysis, which only appears in response to specific triggers, when certain enzymes, such as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, are absent.
- Haemoglobin Abnormalities: In addition, hemolytic anemia can also result from disorders affecting the structure or function of hemoglobin, such as unstable hemoglobinopathies and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).
- Mechanical Trauma: Physical causes could include heart valve problems, thrombotic microangiopathies, microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, or mechanical damage to red blood cells.
- Alloimmune Reactions: Hemolytic anemia may develop if a person’s immune system responds to blood transfusion or in pregnancy (for example, hemolytic disease of the newborn or Rh disease).
- Dietary Factors: In most cases, a person with G6PD deficiency may experience hemolysis when they ingest certain dietary factors, such as fava beans.
Treatment for Hemolytic anemia
The management of hemolytic anemia is contingent upon the underlying etiology and grade of the illness. Here are some common treatment approaches for hemolytic anemia:
- Blood Transfusions: Severe hemolytic anemias, for example, may cause transfusion where red blood cells are replaced, which in turn improves oxygen transportation within the system.
- Splenectomy: Splencotomy may be carried out if it has been proven that the spleen is causing death in red blood cells.
- Antibiotics: If the hemolytic anemia is due to bacterial infections, appropriate antibiotics are administered to treat the infection and stop destroying the RBCs.
- Avoiding Triggers: Those with enzyme deficiencies such as G6PD may experience hemolytic episodes due to triggers such as infections, certain medications, and fava beans.
- Medication Adjustment: Depending on whether a medication causes hemolysis or not, a medical professional may occasionally ask a patient to stop taking it or give it another look.
- Folic Acid Supplementation: In some cases, folic acid supplements can be prescribed as an adjunct therapy, which helps the body develop these new red blood cells more efficiently.
- Plasma Exchange Therapy: Plasma exchange is another treatment option for severe hemolytic anemia caused by autoantibodies and other factors.
However, in the case of hemolytic anemia, one should always seek assistance from a credible healthcare professional whose professional advice will lead to the right diagnosis and subsequent management of this condition.
Hemolytic anemia is the abnormally high rate at which red blood cells cease to exist. hemolytic anemia caused due to various reasons, such as genetic disorders, auto-immune diseases, infections, drug toxicity, enzyme deficiencies, etc. These symptoms include fatigue, pallor, jaundice, and tachycardia, which highlight how serious this illness is. It is important to diagnose on time using physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging studies for proper management. Depending on the nature and severity of the disease, treatment options may include corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, blood transfusion, splenectomy, or plasma exchange therapy. For an accurate diagnosis and management of the condition, a thorough medical diagnosis and treatment plan focused on treating the underlying cause of hemolytic anemia, as well as relieving symptoms, are required.
Frequently asked questions
What is the main cause of hemolytic anemia?
However, the main causes of hemolytic anemia can differ depending on the situation and may include such things as inherent conditions, autoimmune diseases, infections, medications, toxins, and so on.
What are the signs of hemolytic anemia?
Fatigue, pallor, jaundice, dark urine, enlarged spleen, tachycardia, and dyspnea are the symptoms of hemolytic anemia.
What infections cause hemolytic anemia?
Malarial infection, typhoid fever, and bacterial infections such as Clostridium perfringens may be the reasons for some of the hemolytic anemias.