Polycythemia (High Red Blood Cell Count) (cont.)
Siamak T. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What is polycythemia?
- What are normal ranges of hematocrit, red cell counts, and hemoglobin?
- What causes polycythemia?
- What are the causes of primary polycythemia?
- What are the common causes of secondary polycythemia?
- Can other sources of erythropoietin (EPO) cause polycythemia?
- What is relative polycythemia?
- What is stress polycythemia?
- What are the risk factors for polycythemia?
- What are the symptoms of polycythemia?
- When should I see a doctor about polycythemia?
- How is polycythemia diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for polycythemia?
- What are the complications of polycythemia?
- Can polycythemia be prevented?
- What is the outlook (prognosis) for polycythemia?
- Polycythemia At A Glance
- Find a local Hematologist in your town
Can other sources of Erythropoietin (EPO) cause polycythemia?
Erythropoietin (EPO) has been made synthetically for clinical treatment of certain types of anemia. Some professional athletes have used this type of injectable EPO (blood doping) to improve their performance in competitions by producing more hemoglobin and, therefore, improving the delivery of oxygen to their tissues, mainly muscles. This type of doping practice is banned by many professional sport committees.
What is relative polycythemia?
In some forms of secondary polycythemia, the hemoglobin or red blood cell count is perceived to be abnormally high due to an increased concentration of blood. This can happen as a result of plasma volume loss from dehydration, severe vomiting or diarrhea, or excessive sweating. Polycythemia in these situations may be called relative polycythemia, because the actual numbers of red blood cells are not abnormal.
What is stress polycythemia?
Stress polycythemia is a term applied to a chronic (long standing) state of low plasma volume which is seen commonly in active, hard working, anxious, middle-aged men. In these people, the red blood cell volume is normal, but the plasma volume is low. This condition is also known as Gaisbock's disease, stress erythrocytosis, or pseudopolycythemia.
Smoker's polycythemia is a similar condition in which increased levels of deoxygenated hemoglobin (hemoglobin that does not carry oxygen, instead carrying carbon dioxide) causes an increase in red blood cell counts.
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