Diseases are part of our lives, whether we like them or not. They exist and it is a fact that, at some point, none of them will end up catching us. There are several types of diseases that appear for no apparent reason and can harm us a lot, as is the case of polycythemia, for example.
Among other diseases that affect our blood , polycythemia stands out for its effects and for not having a cure, despite having treatment. And although it causes a lot of concern, people who have polycythemia can have a peaceful life, as long as it is watered and controlled.
To better understand how this control is performed, it is necessary to talk more deeply about what the disease is, in addition to what are its main causes, symptoms and treatments.
What is Polycythemia?
Polycythemia, also known as polycythemia vera or neonatal polycythemia , is a disease caused by the excess of red cells (red blood cells) in the blood. This increase causes the blood to become thicker and, consequently, to have more difficulty in transporting itself through the body and reaching the organs.
The problems can get worse, as some thinner veins or blood vessels can end up becoming clogged, at the risk of even causing a stroke if it occurs in the brain.
Despite appearing in an average of one in every 50 thousand people , polycythemia is worrying, not least because the disease can evolve and become myelfibrosis, a disease that affects the production of blood in the bone marrow and can cause several difficulties for the body. human.
The average age at which polycythemia is diagnosed is 60 years, occurring much more in men than in women , although there are female cases. Polycythemia in people under the age of 20 is extremely rare.
Symptoms of Polycythemia
Before talking about the main symptoms of the disease, it is important to know that, in its initial phase, polycythemia is silent and does not present its symptoms. But despite this, people who have polycythemia are more at risk of having a stroke, pulmonary embolism or even a myocardial infarction, which makes the disease even more dangerous.
Knowing this, we can say that the main symptoms of polycythemia are:
- Gingival bleeding
- Burning sensation in the hands and feet
- Blurry vision
- Constant headache
- Bone pain
- Reddish skin
- Constant itching of the skin
- Excessive tiredness
Such symptoms appear when the disease is already more advanced. Still, it is important to pay attention to the combination of these symptoms, as they alone can be signs of other diseases as well.
What are the causes of polycythemia?
Although not known in all cases of the disease, in 95% of polycythemia cases there is a genetic mutation called Jak2, which is the mutation that causes the production of excess blood cells.
As the bone marrow is responsible for the production of this type of cell, it may end up with scar tissue and have difficulty in the production of this type of cell.
Diagnosis of Polycythemia
The disease is often discovered through routine examinations, even before the presentation of any type of symptom. Through blood tests that assess hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, a doctor can detect any change in the production of red blood cells and better assess the patient to find out whether or not it is a case of polycythemia.
On some occasions, when there are still doubts, the doctor may order other types of tests, such as the genetic or the plasma level of erythropoietin, for example, to diagnose the disease more accurately. It is always important to see a doctor as soon as you experience any of the symptoms of the disease and in no way try to self-medicate.
Treatment of Polycythemia
As previously mentioned in the text, there is no cure for polycythemia, but it is possible to live a normal life through treatment. The treatment of polycythemia is done with the aim of maintaining the level of cells in the blood adequate so that there is a good circulation and so that there is no damage to the patient due to the disease.
One of the main ways to treat polycythemia is through phlebotomy , a process that consists of extracting a certain amount of blood from a person every day (usually 500ml), in order to make the production of cells into the blood too decrease.
From this decrease, the intervals for this blood extraction are getting longer and longer, reaching months. In some more extreme cases, chemotherapy is needed to combat the high number of blood cells.
It is important that the patient never interrupts his treatment. Without it, the average life span of a person who has polycythemia tends to be less than 2 years.
Polycythemia is a disease that can be severe and cause various damages to a person’s health, such as the stroke we mentioned earlier. And even if there is no specific cure, it is important to know that treatment for the disease can control it and cause it to cause the least amount of damage possible.
So it is important to see a doctor if you feel the symptoms of the disease and carry out the treatment properly. That way, your life and day to day can continue in a smooth and normal way.
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My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.