Warm Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Warm Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia is an extremely rare form of anemia affecting only one in eighty thousand individuals. This type of anemia is caused when the red blood cells are destroyed by warm antibodies which are activated by warm temperatures such as the body temperature. Warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia can occur in individuals of all ages but typically occurs in people after the age of forty and is seen more commonly in women than in men.

Conditions which can Increase the Risk of Warm Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

The cause of this type of anemia remains unknown in about fifty percent of the cases diagnosed, however, acquiring certain diseases or conditions can increase an individuals risk for warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia. These diseases include viruses and autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, hepatitis, HIV, and other blood cancers.

Certain medications can also cause this type of anemia-particularly cephalosporin’s and penicillin. The destruction of blood cells may slowly develop or in some cases this condition may happen very suddenly and in some individuals this destruction will stop on its own while in other cases the destruction may increase and become a chronic condition.

Treatments Given for Warm Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

In mild cases of warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia where the blood cell destruction is slowing down naturally, typically no treatment is given. In cases where the destruction of cells is increasing, the first treatment is typically given is a corticosteroid- typically prednisone-initially with high doses then decreasing the amount gradually over a period of weeks or months.

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If the corticosteroids are failing to work or the individual is experiencing serious side effects, the spleen may be removed because of its significant roll in the destruction of the red blood cells. In some cases where all of these treatments have failed the individual may receive immunosuppressive drugs or blood transfusions.