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Primary Polycythemia

Primary Polycythemia Causes

DNA mutation causes polycythemia vera. The disorder may be acquired after birth. However, doctors and researchers do not know the reason for the mutation.

Primary Polycythemia Definition

Primary polycythemia, also called polycythemia vera, is a blood disorder due to the excess of red blood cells or over production of white blood cells and platelets. The excess red blood cells cause the thickening of blood.

Primary Polycythemia Diagnosis

Doctors usually use blood tests in diagnosing primary polycythemia to check for an increase of red blood cells, or in other cases, an increase in platelets or white blood cells. Doctors may also recommend bone marrow aspiration to examine whether there is an overproduction of blood cells, which may also reveal the DNA mutation the patient has polycythemia vera.

Primary Polycythemia Symptoms and Signs

Patients may experience itching after being exposed to warm water. Others may have gouty arthritis or peptic ulcer disease. In rare cases, patients may suddenly feel a severe burning of hands and feet, which turns the skin into reddish or bluish in color. This symptom is called erythromelalgia.

Primary Polycythemia Treatment

There is no cure for primary polycythemia. However, there are various treatments to control the symptoms and decrease complication risks. Such treatments include Bloodletting or phlebotomy often combined with other therapies; prescription of low dose aspirin to reduce the risk thrombotic complications; chemotherapy, which is used sparingly; interferon injections; or bone marrow transplants, which is done only in rare cases.

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