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Hemolytic anemia ***

Overview | Treatment | Images

Hemolytic anemia is a condition of an inadequate number of circulating red blood cells (anemia), caused by premature destruction of red blood cells. There are a number of specific types of hemolytic anemia which are described individually.

Alternative names
Anemia - hemolytic

Causes, incidences, and risk factors
Hemolytic anemia occurs when the bone marrow is unable to compensate for premature destruction of red blood cells by increasing their production. When the marrow is able to compensate, anemia does not occur.

There are many types of hemolytic anemia, which are classified by the location of the defect. The defect may be in the red blood cell itself (intrinsic factor), or outside the red blood cell (extrinsic factor).

Causes of hemolytic anemia include infection, certain medications, autoimmune disorders, and inherited disorders. Types of hemolytic anemia include:
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria
  • Hemoglobin SC disease
  • Hemolytic anemia due to G6PD deficiency
  • Hereditary elliptocytosis
  • Hereditary spherocytosis
  • Hereditary ovalocytosis
  • Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Non-immune hemolytic anemia caused by chemical or physical agents
  • Secondary immune hemolytic anemia
  • Sickle thalassemia

There is no known prevention for hemolytic anemia.


Signs and tests
These are tests for hemolysis (red blood cell destruction). There are specific tests which identify the specific types of hemolytic anemia. They are performed after hemolysis has been established. Direct measurement of the red cell life span by isotopic tagging techniques shows a decreased life span.

This disease may also alter the following test results depending on the specific cause: