Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Primary Polycythemia Overview

Another name for Primary Polycythemia is Polycythemia Vera.

What is polycythemia vera?
In a person with polycythemia vera, the bone marrow produces too many red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This results in very high numbers of red blood cells in the bloodstream and causes the blood to become too thick. The cause of polycythemia vera is unknown. About 1 out of 200,000 people in the US develop polycythemia vera each year.

What are the symptoms of polycythemia vera?
Symptoms of polycythemia vera may include dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, shortness of breath during exertion, excessive sweating, nighttime sweats, tinnitus, vertigo, blurry vision, and weight loss. Additional symptoms of polycythemia vera may include bone pain, chest pain, leg pain, nosebleeds, excessive bruising, skin redness and extremity swelling.

How does the doctor treat polycythemia vera?
Treatment for polycythemia vera includes aspirin, medications that control the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow, and the removal of red blood cells from the bloodstream. Additional treatment for polycythemia vera may include surgical removal of the spleen.

Continue to Primary Polycythemia Incidence

Last Updated: Nov 4, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Primary Polycythemia References
  1. Steensma DP. Polycythemia vera: plethora, from prehistory to present. Curr Hematol Rep. 2005 May;4(3):230-4. [15865877]
  2. Stuart BJ, Viera AJ. Polycythemia vera. Am Fam Physician. 2004 May 1;69(9):2139-44. [15152961]
  3. Thiele JM, Kvasnicka HM. Diagnosis of polycythemia vera based on bone marrow pathology. Curr Hematol Rep. 2005 May;4(3):218-23. [15865875]
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