Hemolysis: accelerated breakdown of red blood cells, anemia

Anemia often causes fatigue complaints, in addition to which too many blood breakdown substances are present. In the condition hemolysis, the red blood cell is relatively brittle, making hemoglobin more likely to burst through the wall. It ensures that cells are broken down more quickly, causing anemia. What does hemolysis mean and how can it cause an enlarged painful life-threatening spleen?


  • Influence of red blood cells
  • How long do blood cells last?
  • What happens with hemolysis?
  • Additional problems
  • Influence on spleen and liver

Influence of red blood cells

To function properly, the entire body needs oxygen-rich blood. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which can trap oxygen with iron and magnesium. With this basis, gases can be exchanged via the alveoli or alveoli. Oxygen is absorbed and carbon dioxide is released. With this basis, the body can continue to function powerfully, without becoming exhausted quickly. Blood disorders can affect the transport capacity of the blood, causing various parts of the body to receive insufficient oxygen. What does hemolysis entail and what are the consequences?

How long do blood cells last?

Healthy blood is normally produced in the bone marrow so that it can carry oxygen. Red blood cells can normally last in the body for about one hundred to one hundred and twenty days, after which the old blood cells are broken down. In that case, hemoglobin is broken down into bilirubin and is removed via the liver and gallbladder. It gives the stool a typical brown color. With hemolysis, red blood cells have a much shorter lifespan. Consider a period of sixty to eighty days. Because the bone marrow can only produce a certain amount of cells per day, a deficiency will occur. This causes anemia or anemia.

What happens with hemolysis?

An important part of red blood cells is the substance hemoglobin. Because the hardness of the cell is less than normal (blood cell brittleness), it can be broken down more quickly. In other words, hemoglobin is more likely to leave the cell and be broken down. Because the shelf life of red blood cells is limited, the bone marrow has to work harder to produce sufficient healthy cells. It will often lead to anemia with all its consequences. The person tires quickly, body processes run less effectively, and it also affects the spleen and liver.

Additional problems

Because much more bilirubin is produced, more waste products must be passed into the feces. In other words, the droppings can be very dark. Problems with the bile ducts can also occur, causing, for example, gallstones. This can, for example, cause a blockage, which means that bilirubin must be removed through the urine. The urine is then extra dark (paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria). In addition, the body may contain too much bilirubin, causing the person to appear yellow (jaundice). Both the eyes and skin may turn an unusual yellow color. Of course, endurance is also affected.

Influence on spleen and liver

Because much more blood waste products are produced, the body’s purifiers also have to work extra hard. This can also vary with how many blood cells are produced, as the rate of production and breakdown changes over time. It can mean overactivity of the organs, causing the spleen to swell and be painful. If the condition causes the spleen to become significantly enlarged, it can lead to the removal of the spleen. In that case, the patient’s health will quickly improve.

General malaise, fatigue and a yellow appearance are always reasons for further investigation. Hemolysis can have major consequences. The production of red blood cells often needs to be stimulated for life through medication. If there is a painful spleen, there may be an acute life-threatening circumstance that always requires a rapid medical or surgical response.

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