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Hemolytic Anemia


Hemolytic anemia is when your red blood cells (RBCs) die sooner than normal. Your bone marrow cannot make new RBCs fast enough to replace the ones that have died. Hemolytic anemia can be a short-term or long-term problem.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need to rest. Your caregiver will tell you when it is okay to increase your activities. Call your caregiver before you get up for the first time. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away. Then call your caregiver.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

A pulse oximeter

is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.


  • Bone marrow stimulants: These medicines are also called growth factor medicines. They help trigger your bone marrow to start making new RBCs, WBCs, and platelets.
  • Immunosuppressants: These medicines help prevent the body from attacking its own bone marrow. This may help the bone marrow make more blood cells.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Antipyretics: This medicine is given to decrease a fever.
  • Folic Acid: This is a vitamin that may help your body make more blood cells.
  • Iron replacement: This medicine may be given to refill your body's iron supply. Iron may cause your bowel movements to be dark green or black. You may also have diarrhea or constipation from the iron. Do not stop taking it unless your caregiver tells you to.
  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Steroids: You may take steroids to treat a health problem that is causing your hemolytic anemia. For example, steroids may be used to help treat an autoimmune disorder. Steroids may help decrease the number of RBCs being destroyed by your body.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to monitor the growth of your blood cells. This will help caregivers know what treatment is best for you. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Bone marrow biopsy: This is when a sample of bone marrow is removed and sent to a lab for tests. This will help caregivers know which types of blood cells are low. The skin over your upper hipbone is first cleaned. Caregivers put numbing medicine into your skin so you will have little pain. A bandage is put on the biopsy area after the tissue sample is taken.
  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.
  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.
  • Abdominal ultrasound: An abdominal ultrasound is a simple test that looks at the organs inside of your abdomen. Caregivers will look to see if your spleen or liver have grown too large because of the hemolytic anemia. Sound waves are used to show pictures of your abdomen on a monitor.


  • Blood transfusion: You may need one or more blood transfusions to replace blood you have lost. This will also help decrease your signs and symptoms. You will get whole or parts of blood through an IV during a transfusion. Blood is tested for diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, to be sure it is safe.
  • Bone marrow or stem cell transplant: Stem cells are the part of the bone marrow that make the RBCs, WBCs, and platelets. A stem cell transplant is when your stem cells are replaced with healthy stem cells. Stem cells usually come from a donor. The healthy stem cells are given to you through an IV. The stem cells return to the bone marrow, grow, and start producing WBCs, RBCs, and platelets. This transplant is usually done while you are in the hospital. you may be in the hospital for a month after your transplant.
  • Surgery: Your spleen may get larger as it works harder to remove broken down RBCs. As the spleen gets larger, even more RBCs are broken down. When this happens, you may need surgery to remove your spleen.


You could have a bad reaction to a blood transfusion, such as a seizure. Treatments may be slow to work, or may not work at all. This can be life-threatening. Ask your caregiver for more information about the risks of hemolytic anemia.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.