Anaemia, haemolytic

Anaemia caused by accelerated breakdown of red blood cells, usually because they are abnormal in form or made up of abnormal components, or because of an autoimmune disease. A particular form of haemolytic anaemia is caused by rhesus incompatibility. The symptoms of haemolytic anaemia are the same as those of anaemia in general: paleness, fatigue, palpitations and giddiness, but a specific symptom is jaundice: yellow colouring of the skin and the whites of the eyes, and darker colouring of the urine. Jaundice is caused by accumulated breakdown products of red blood cells. Treatment is by blood transfusion, or sometimes by removal of the spleen, as the organ in which the most important part of the breakdown of red cells takes place.

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