Hemolytic Anemia « Allied Health World Blog

Hemolytic Anemia

There are several different causes for anemia. Hemolytic anemia is caused specifically by the premature destruction of circulating red blood cells. This premature destruction makes it difficult for the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells fast enough to compensate for the destroyed cells.

This type of anemia can either be inherited or acquired. An abnormality in the red cells can be a genetic trait that is inherited. This genetic condition usually appears early in life. Sickle cell anemia, hereditary spherocytosis, and red cell enzyme disorgers such as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) disease are examples of inherited forms of hemolytic anemia.

People with G6PD deficiency usually end up with hemolytic anemia because of exposure to certain substances. Most often these substances include certain types of sulfonamides and antimalrials as well as medications containing nitrofurantoin.

There are several ways that this form of anemia can be acquired other than genetically. Infection, fever or disturbances of normal metabolism as well as viral bacterial or parasitic infections can cause red cell destruction. Blood transfusions with incompatible blood can also result in an immediate or delayed hemolysis.

Some symptoms that are associated with hemolytic anemia include:

-Fatigue or weakness.

-Shortness of breath.


-Dark urine (caused by excess bile pigment bilirubin)

Generally, hemolytic anemia is treated with folic acid supplements and occasionally blood transfusions in emergency situations. Some types of hemolytic anemia require iron supplementation. It is best to avoid exposure to certain drugs or chemical substances such as antibiotics, antihypertensives, and antiarrhythmics that can cause hemolysis.