Polycythemia is a condition in which the hematocrit level of the body is above the normal level. The hematocrit level is the number of red blood cells in the blood. This can be as a result of an increase in the number of erythrocytes in the red blood cell, or due to a decrease in the volume of plasma. Polycythemia vera, on the other hand, is a rare disorder, is a rare disorder in which the bone marrow makes an excessive amount of red blood cells. This might also lead to the overproduction of white blood cells and platelets. Most of the signs and symptoms associated with polycythemia vera are as a result of the blood thickness, due to the increased amount of red blood cells in the body. Some of the signs and symptoms of the disease include itching of the skin, burning sensations of the hands, or in the feet, which might also be accompanied by a change in coloration of the skin. The main treatment of polycythemia vera is by phlebotomy. Physicians do buy stem cells online for the treatment of Polycythemia Vera
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Polycythemia Vera?
Polycythemia vera can sometimes be asymptomatic. However, the typical symptoms of polycythemia vera include
- Itching of the skin: This occurs especially after the individual has just taken a warm bath, or when the patient has been exposed to warm water. This has been attributed to the abnormal level of histamine that is released.
- Gout: This is a condition in which patients feel pain and rigidity in their joints. This is usually as a result of the high amount of uric acid in the bloodstream. is another symptom that happens in polycythemia vera.
- Peptic ulcer: This is prevalent in people affected by the disease. This is a condition in which the patient has an excessive amount of acid in the stomach, which would lead to different symptoms such as heartburn, abdominal pain, and perforation in severe cases. The development of the peptic ulcer has been attributed to the surge in the amount of histamine that is produced by the mast cells. Some researchers have also connected this to the bacteria Helicobacter pylori.
- Erythromelalgia: This is a condition in which the patient experiences some burning sensation in the hands and also in the feet. This might also be accompanied by a change in the coloration of the skin. This condition occurs as a result of a surge in the number of thrombocytes, or the aggregation of platelets, which would lead to the formation of clots in the vessels of the extremities. This condition can be treated by medications. The most common and effective drug used for treating this condition is aspirin.
- Thrombosis: This is also one of the signs and symptom of polycythemia vera. The abnormal number of platelets in the blood predispose the patient to the formation of blood clots. There are other complications that can arise as a result of the formation of clots. Some of these symptoms include heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, Budd-Chiari syndrome and so on.
- Other symptoms: Other symptoms that are associated with Polycythemia vera include a headache, tiredness, and inability to concentrate.
What Is The Cause Of Polycythemia Vera?
Polycythemia vera is a disease that occurs as result of a mutation of a gene. The gene that is mutated in this case is the JAK2 gene. Polycythemia vera occurs because of an abnormal JAK2 gene. The function of the gene is to monitor and control the number of blood cells the bone marrow makes. The bone marrow is responsible for the manufacture of blood cells. They include the erythrocyte, also known as the red blood cell, the leucocyte, also known as the white blood cell, and the platelets, also known as the thrombocyte. The function of the red blood cell is to transport oxygen and nutrients, while the function of the white blood cell is to help the body fight infections. Lastly, the function of the platelets is to help the body to stop the blood from bleeding out, by forming blood clots. Most people affected by polycythemia vera, do have a large number of red blood cells. Also, the disease may also cause the patient to have an excessive amount of white blood cells and also thrombocytes.
How Is Polycythemia Vera Diagnosed?
The physician would take the medical and personal history of the patient. Some of the questions the doctor might ask the patient include the following;
- If the patient has been experiencing headaches
- Any rapid loss of weight recently
- Does the patient feel tired easily?
- Does the patient present with dyspnea, or loss of breath?
- Does the patient sweat at night?
The doctor would have to do some further evaluations if he thinks the individual might have Polycythemia Vera. Some of the tests that could be performed are
- Complete blood count: The doctor would take a sample of the blood. This is usually done by taking some blood with the syringe from the veins. The blood sample is then sent to the laboratory where a device counts the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and so on. The presence of a large quantity of any of these cells would suggest that the patient might have Polycythemia Vera.
- Erythropoietin level: The erythropoietin is a hormone that is produced by the liver and the kidney. The erythropoietin is the hormone that is responsible for stimulating the bone marrow to manufacture more blood cells. A high level of this hormone in the blood would suggest polycythemia, Vera.
- Blood smear: This is usually done to eliminate other diseases.
How Is Polycythemia Vera Treated?
This disease can be fatal if left untreated. This disease cannot be treated yet, however, the signs and symptoms of the disease can be improved through proper management. The most common and one of the most effective treatment procedure is phlebotomy. This is a process in which blood is removed from the body, stimulating iron deficiency, hence reducing the hemoglobin level, and also reducing the risk of developing blood clots. Other treatment methods include chemotherapy and so on.
Stem Cell Therapy And Polycythemia Vera
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is usually done in patients with polycythemia vera. This method has proved effective and can cure the disease, especially in those with end-stage polycythemia Vera.
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Saini, K., Patnaik, M. and Tefferi, A. (2010). Polycythemia vera-associated pruritus and its management. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 40(9), pp.828-834.
Spivak, J. (2014). The polycythemia vera stem cell. Leukaemia Supplements, 3(S1), pp.S23-S24.