If polycythemia vera is not treated then it could become life threatening. The symptoms are the following:
In its early stages, polycythemia vera usually doesn't cause any signs or symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, you may experience:
- Itchiness, especially following a warm bath or shower
- Redness of your skin
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulty when you lie down
- Numbness, tingling, burning or weakness in your hands, feet, arms or legs
- A feeling of fullness or bloating in your left upper abdomen due to an enlarged spleen
Doctors most frequently use blood tests to diagnose polycythemia vera. If you have polycythemia vera, blood tests may reveal:
- An increase in the number of red blood cells and, in some cases, an increase in platelets or white blood cells.
- Elevated hematocrit measurement, the percentage of red blood cells that make up total blood volume.
- Elevated levels of hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
- Very low levels of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that stimulates bone marrow to produce new red blood cells.
If your doctor suspects you have polycythemia vera, he or she may recommend a bone marrow aspiration or biopsy to collect a sample of your bone marrow. A bone marrow biopsy involves taking a sample of solid bone marrow material. A bone marrow aspiration is usually done at the same time as a biopsy. During an aspiration, your doctor withdraws a sample of the liquid portion of your marrow.
If an examination of your bone marrow shows that it's producing higher than normal numbers of blood cells, it may be a sign of polycythemia vera.
Tests for the gene mutation that causes polycythemia vera
If you have polycythemia vera, analysis of your bone marrow or blood also may show the mutation in the cells (JAK2 V617F mutation) that's associated with the disease.
Treatment of polycythemia include doing a phlebotomy to remove blood that is putting your circulatory system in overload. It is similar to giving blood to the Red Cross. Drugs are given if the phlebotomy is not enough to relieve the increased red cell production.
Hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea) or anagrelide (Agrylin), to suppress your bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells may be used. Interferon-alpha may be used to stimulate your immune system to fight the overproduction of red blood cells.
Any abnormal symptoms should always be addressed by a doctor. Be in tune with your body and document changes to help the doctor to have a clearer picture of your health problems.
You can get more information be searching https:www.mayoclinic.com