Immune hemolytic anemia

Alternative Names

Anemia – immune hemolytic; Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)

Definition of Immune hemolytic anemia

Immune hemolytic anemia is a condition in which there is a reduced blood cell count due to the premature destruction of red blood cells by the immune system.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Immune hemolytic anemia occurs when antibodies form against the body’s own red blood cells. The antibodies destroy the blood cells because the immune system mistakenly recognizes these blood cells as foreign material within the body.

Treatment

Treatment with a steroid medication such as prednisone is usually the first therapy tried. If a steroid medication does not improve the condition, removal of the spleen (splenectomy) may be considered. Treatments with drugs that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants) may also be given if you do not respond to steroids.

Expectations (prognosis)

The disease may start quickly and be very serious, or it may remain mild and not need specific treatment.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 1/31/2010

Antibodies

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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