Polycythaemia, also known as erythrocytosis, means having a high concentration of red blood cells in your blood. This makes the blood thick and less able to travel through blood vessels and organs. Many of the symptoms of polycythaemia are caused by this sluggish flow of blood .

Symptoms of polycythaemia

not everyone with polycythaemia has symptoms – but many do. Make an appointment to see your GP if you have persistent symptoms of polycythaemia. These include :

Reading: Polycythaemia

  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • red skin – particularly in the face, hands and feet
  • tiredness
  • high blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • discomfort in the tummy
  • confusion
  • bleeding problems – such as nosebleeds and bruising
  • gout – which can cause joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • itchy skin – especially after a bath or shower

When to seek immediate medical advice

Polycythaemia can cause blood clots. These put you at risk of dangerous problems such as :

  • pulmonary embolisms – a blockage in the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs
  • deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blockage that forms in the blood vessels in your leg before moving elsewhere in your body

Seek checkup aid immediately if you or person you ‘re with shows signs of DVT or a pneumonic embolism. These include :

  • pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in one of your legs
  • a heavy ache in the affected area
  • warm skin in the area of the clot
  • breathlessness
  • chest or upper back pain
  • coughing up blood
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • fainting

Polycythaemia besides increases your risk of heart approach and stroke. Seek emergency medical help if you think that you or person you ‘re with is having a heart attack or stroke .

What causes polycythaemia?

Polycythaemia can be divided into respective different types, depending on the underlie induce. In some cases, an fundamental lawsuit ca n’t be identified .

Apparent polycythaemia

“ apparent polycythaemia ” is where your crimson cellular telephone count is normal, but you have a reduce come of a fluid called plasma in your blood, making it blockheaded. apparent polycythaemia is frequently caused by being corpulence, smoke, drinking excessively much alcohol or taking certain medicines – including diuretics ( tablets for high blood atmospheric pressure that make you pee more ). apparent polycythaemia may improve if the implicit in cause is identified and managed. Stopping smoking or reducing your alcohol intake, for exemplar, may help .

Relative polycythaemia

This is exchangeable to apparent polycythaemia. It can happen as a result of dehydration .

Absolute polycythaemia

“ absolute polycythaemia ” is where your soundbox produces excessively many loss blood cells. There are 2 independent types :

  • primary polycythaemia – there’s a problem in the cells produced by the bone marrow that become red blood cells; the most common type is known as polycythaemia vera (PV)
  • secondary polycythaemia – too many red blood cells are produced as the result of an underlying condition

Polycythaemia vera (PV)

PV is rare. It ‘s normally caused by a change in the JAK2 gene, which causes the cram marrow cells to produce excessively many crimson lineage cells. The affect bone marrow cells can besides develop into early cells found in the blood, which means that people with PV may besides have abnormally high numbers of both platelets and white bloods cells. Although caused by a genetic change, PV is n’t normally inherited. Most cases develop later in life. The average age at diagnosis is 60 .

Secondary polycythaemia

junior-grade polycythaemia is where an implicit in condition causes more erythropoietin to be produced. This is a hormone produced by the kidneys that stimulates the bone marrow cells to produce crimson blood cells. Health conditions that can cause secondary polycythaemia include :

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnoea – these can cause an increase in erythropoietin, due to not enough oxygen reaching the body’s tissues
  • a problem with the kidneys – such as a kidney tumour or narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the kidneys

How polycythaemia is diagnosed

Polycythaemia can be diagnosed by carrying out a blood screen to check :

  • the number of red blood cells in your blood (red blood cell count)
  • the amount of space the red blood cells take up in the blood (haematocrit level)

A high concentration of bolshevik lineage cells suggests you have polycythaemia. Polycythaemia is sometimes alone discovered during a act blood test for another reason. Your GP may refer you to a hematologist ( a specialist in lineage disorders ) for more tests, to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the underlying cause.

These may include :

  • a blood test to look for the changed JAK2 gene
  • an ultrasound scan of your tummy to look for problems in your kidneys

Treatments for polycythaemia

discussion for polycythaemia aims to prevent symptoms and complications ( such as blood clots ), and treat any underlying causes .

Venesection (removing blood)

venesection is the childlike and quickest way of reducing the numeral of crimson cells in your blood. It may be recommended if you have PV, a history of blood clots, or symptoms suggesting your blood is besides thick. Venesection involves removing about 1 pint ( half a liter ) of blood at a time, in a similar way to the routine used for blood contribution. How frequently this is needed will be unlike for each person. At inaugural, you may need the treatment every workweek, but once your polycythaemia is under control you may only need it every 6 to 12 weeks or less. For more information, read an NHS cusp on having a venesection ( PDF, 336kb ) .

Medicine to reduce red blood cells

In cases of PV, medicine may be prescribed to slow down the production of loss lineage cells. many unlike medicines are available and your specialist will take into account your long time and health, reply to venesection and crimson lineage cellular telephone count when choosing the most appropriate one for you. Examples include :

  • hydroxycarbamide – this medicine is taken as tablets every morning and is generally tolerated well. But you should not take it if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant
  • interferon – this medicine is given by injection into the abdomen or thigh 1 to 3 times a week. You can inject it yourself at home once you’ve become familiar with how to do it. Interferon has the advantage that it can be taken in pregnancy, but it may cause unpleasant side effects, such as hair loss and flu-like symptoms

Medicine to prevent blood clots

If you have PV, day by day low-dose aspirin tablets may be prescribed to help prevent rake clots and reduce the hazard of serious complications. You may besides be offered treatment with low-dose aspirin if you have apparent or secondary polycythaemia and another health problem affecting your blood vessels, such as coronary heart disease or cerebrovascular disease .

Treating and preventing other symptoms

Some people may besides need treatment for any other symptoms or complications of polycythaemia they have, or for any underlie campaign of the condition. For exercise, you may be given medicine to help relieve itch or pull off COPD. Read more about :

  • treatments for itching
  • treating COPD

Lifestyle changes that help

equally well as improving some cases of apparent polycythaemia, making healthy life style changes can besides reduce the hazard of potentially unplayful rake clots for people with all types of polycythaemia. Having polycythaemia means you ‘re already at high hazard of a lineage clot, and being corpulence or smoking entirely increases this risk. You may find the pursue advice and information helpful :

  • losing weight
  • BMI healthy weight calculator
  • preventing cardiovascular disease
  • managing high blood pressure
  • stopping smoking

Outlook for polycythaemia

The mentality for polycythaemia largely depends on the fundamental cause. many cases are balmy and may not lead to any far complications. however, some cases – particularly cases of PV – can be more good and command long-run treatment.

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If well controlled, polycythaemia should not affect your life anticipation, and you should be able to live a normal life. however, people with PV can have a slightly lower life anticipation than normal ascribable to the increased hazard of problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. PV can besides sometimes cause scar of the bone kernel ( myelofibrosis ), which can finally lead to you having excessively few blood cells. In some rare cases, it can develop into a type of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia ( AML ) .
page last reviewed : 30 April 2019
Next recapitulation due : 30 April 2022

informant : https://www.bestofcalgary.city
Category : Health

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