Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is caused by the destruction of red blood cells. This occurs when antibodies are directed against the person's own red blood cells causing them to burst.
Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are damaged, the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat. It can be a serious, fatal condition that requires professional care. Risk factors that increase the chance of developing autoimmune hemolytic anemia include: recent viral infections; certain current medications; cancer or leukemia.
Symptoms may include, dark brown urine, jaundice (yellow skin), muscle pains, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat.
Cortisone-like drugs suppress the immune response. These drugs usually improve the more common types of autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Other drugs that suppress the immune system may be used if corticosteroids are not effective.