Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is caused by the destruction of RBCs. It can be a serious, fatal condition that requires care from a doctor.

  • Causes

    This type of anemia is caused by an autoimmune problem. The immune system attacks and destroys red blood cells. The abnormal reaction of the immune system may be caused by:


    • Drugs

      • Fludarabine
      • Interferon alfa

    • Infections


      • Viral infections (including
        mononucleosis
        )
      • Mycoplasma pneumonia

    • Cancers

      • Leukemia

      • Lymphoma (
        Non-Hodgkin’s
        but also occasionally
        Hodgkin’s
        )

    • Collagen-vascular (autoimmune) diseases (eg,
      lupus
      )

  • Definition

    Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat.

    Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is caused by the destruction of RBCs. It can be a serious, fatal condition that requires care from a doctor.

    Red Blood Cells
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medications, and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in blood and blood-forming tissues (a hematologist).


    Tests may include:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests

  • Prevention

    It is not possible to prevent autoimmune hemolytic anemia. It has multiple causes.

  • Risk Factors


    Risk factors that increase your chance of developing autoimmune hemolytic anemia include:

    • Recent viral infections
    • Current medications that can cause autoimmune hemolytic anemia
    • Cancer or leukemia
    • Collagen-vascular (autoimmune) disease
    • Family history of hemolytic disease

  • Symptoms


    If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume the cause is due to autoimmune hemolytic anemia. These symptoms may be caused by many other health conditions.

    • Dark brown urine
    • Jaundice
      (yellow skin)
    • Pallor (pale skin)
    • Muscle pains
    • Headache
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Weakness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Rapid heartbeat

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Mild cases may not need treatment. They may resolve on their own. Treatment options include the following: