What is Hemolytic Anemia?

A rare form of anemia, hemolytic anemia is a blood disorder. This form of anemia is when red blood cells are destroyed or removed from the bloodstream before they usually have served their full lifespan. They typically live for 120 days.

When an individual has hemolytic anemia, the body is removing the red blood cells faster than it is manufacturing them, which depletes the supply of red blood cells.

This breakdown of red blood cells has a name: hemolysis. When there is less than normal amount of red blood cells in the body, the condition causes the body to not be able to have enough oxygen-rich blood circulating. This oxygen-rich blood is necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Hemolytic Anemia Symptoms

Tiredness is the most common symptom when a person is anemic. The tiredness is a result of the tissues of the body not having enough oxygen. The marrow in the center of large bones in the body is how the new red blood cells are manufactured. New red blood cells are needed to replace the ones that are removed from the body.

Usually if you have mild hemolytic anemia you will have no signs or symptoms and will not even know you have the blood disorder. As the severity of the anemia increases so do the seriousness of the symptoms. The most common sign of hemolytic anemia like all anemias is tiredness.

Hemolytic anemia occurs when there is an increased destruction of red blood cells and the marrow does not make enough red blood cells to replace the ones being destroyed. In one type of hemolytic anemia, the body makes abnormal red blood cells.

In the other type the body’s immune system attacks the red blood cells. The destruction of red blood cells can occur in the bloodstream or it can occur in the spleen.


An individual with hemolytic anemia can be successfully treated and the condition controlled. There can be different intensities including mild to severe. If the individual has mild hemolytic anemia it may not need to be treated at all, in fact the individual may not even know they have the blood disorder.

If the person has the severe form of hemolytic anemia it can be life threatening if the person does not receive treatment.

Certain medications or infections can lead to hemolytic anemia and if this is the case, changing the medication or treating the infection can help make the hemolytic anemia resolve.

Individuals of all ages can develop hemolytic anemia. Males and females can get the disorder. Individuals of all races are known to develop hemolytic anemia. Sickle cell anemia is a common form of hemolytic anemia, and develops mainly among those of African or Mediterranean descent.