What are the symptoms of polycythemia?
Symptoms of polycythemia include symptoms related to excessive thickening of the blood, such as reddened face, bleeding of the gums, dizziness, and itchiness. Polycythemia can also affect the eyes and ears, leading to blurred vision or tinnitus. In more serious cases of polycythemia, thrombosis (clotting) can develop, leading to heart attack or stroke.
Common symptoms of polycythemia
You may experience polycythemia symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times, any of these symptoms can be severe:
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive bleeding
- Fullness of the upper abdomen
- Itchy skin
- Red face
- Skin discoloration (blue color)
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
- Vision changes
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, the complications of polycythemia, including heart attack and stroke, can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:
What is polycythemia?
Polycythemia is a blood condition in which the bone marrow makes excess blood cells, primarily red blood cells, but also platelets and white blood cells. The extra cells cause a thickening of the blood, which increases the risk of blood clotting, in turn potentially causing strokes, heart attacks, and other complications. While the exact cause of polycythemia is not known, genetic changes ... Read more about polycythemia introduction
What causes polycythemia?
The exact causes of polycythemia are not known. There is evidence, however, that mutations (changes) in specific genes are related to the development of the disease. These mutations occur during an individual’s lifetime and are not passed on from parents to their children. Only in very rare cases is polycythemia inherited.... Read more about polycythemia causes
How is polycythemia treated?
Polycythemia is treated by thinning the blood to keep clots from forming. This can be performed by periodic blood draws to reduce red blood cell count. In some cases, medications may be administered to suppress the bone marrow and reduce blood cell counts, including hydroxyurea and interferon. Aspirin may also be used to prevent blood clots, although this is less common due to an increased risk of stomach bleeding.... Read more about polycythemia treatments