Learn all about autoimmune hemolytic anemia its signs and symptoms, stages, prognosis and treatment options. An autoimmune disease is a condition arising from an abnormal immune response to a normal body part. A disease resulting from a disordered immune reaction in which antibodies are produced against one’s own tissues, as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis. Many autoimmune diseases don’t restrict themselves to one part of the body. For example, SLE can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, nerves, blood vessels etc.
Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria (Donath-Landsteiner syndrome) is a rare type of cold antibody hemolytic anemia. Destruction of red blood cells results from exposure to cold. Red blood cells may be destroyed even when cold exposure is limited to a small area of the body, such as when the person drinks cold water or washes hands in cold water.
Autoimmune diseases affect various organs and organ systems. The type of autoimmune disorder depends on the type of body tissue that is affected. There are more than 80 known types of autoimmune disorders. Many diseases of the immune system, also known as autoimmune diseases, are more common in women than in men. The body’s immune system accidentally recognizes healthy cells as foreign invaders and begins to attack them. Research shows that autoimmune diseases tend to have underlying genetic, racial, and gender components.
Certain symptoms have been identified as common to most autoimmune conditions. These include the following symptoms: joint and muscle pain, general muscle weakness, rashes, fatigue ,low-grade fever, numbness, dry eyes, shortness of breath: both general, and on exertion, feeling the need to yawn to get a full breath, or heaviness in the chest that makes breathing more difficult, depression, concentration/memory problems: difficulty thinking and concentrating, or “brain fog” etc. Having one autoimmune disease puts you at risk of developing other autoimmune diseases and means that your immediate family members parents, siblings, children are also at risk of developing autoimmune diseases.
The exact cause of autoimmune disease is unknown, although there are many theories about what causes it to malfunction including: Bacteria or virus, Drugs, Chemical irritants Environmental irritants. Studies have shown that autoimmune disorders often run in families and are much more common in women. Hemolytic anemia can affect people of all ages and has numerous underlying causes. For some people, symptoms are mild and resolve with time and without treatment. Others may need care for the rest of their lives. Seeking care when a person has early anemia symptoms can be the first step to feeling better in the long term.
What is Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia?
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is an uncommon group of disorders that can occur at any age. These disorders affect women more often than men. About half of the time, the cause of autoimmune hemolytic anemia cannot be determined (idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia). Autoimmune hemolytic anemia can also be caused by or occur with another disorder, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), and rarely it follows the use of certain drugs, such as penicillin.
Warm Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Warm antibody hemolytic anemia is the most common form of autoimmune hemolytic anemia. It is defined by the presence of autoantibodies that attach to and destroy red blood cells at temperatures equal to or greater than normal body temperature. Warm antibody hemolytic anemia is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the premature destruction of healthy red blood cells by autoantibodies.
Cold Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Cold agglutinin disease is a rare type of autoimmune hemolytic anemia in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys its own red blood cells. When affected people’s blood is exposed to cold temperatures (32º to 50º F), certain proteins that normally attack bacteria (IgM antibodies) attach themselves to red blood cells and bind them together into clumps (agglutination). This eventually causes red blood cells to be prematurely destroyed (hemolysis) leading to anemia and other associated signs and symptoms.
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia Symptoms
Some symptoms of hemolytic anemia are the same as other forms of anemia.
These common symptoms include:
- paleness of the skin
- weakness or inability to do physical activity
Other less common signs and symptoms that are seen in patients with hemolytic anemia include:
- dark urine
- yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- heart murmur
- increased heart rate
- enlarged spleen
- enlarged liver
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia Treatment
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia treatment options differ from one another depending on severity of the condition, your age, your health, and your tolerance to certain medications.
Treatment options for hemolytic anemia include:
- blood transfusion
- intravenous immunoglobulin
- corticosteroid medication