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What are the possible causes for polycythemia?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2008
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My husband was diagnosed with polycythemia 3 years ago. He was 31, a non smoker (has never smoked) - he is fit and healthy. They have tested him to find the cause of his polycythemia - it is not his bone marrow, it is not sleep apnea - and they just do not know why he has it. For 3 years he goes for check ups and has to have venesections to even out his levels. The Doctor hoped his body would start to adapt to this and that it would help his levels - but it hasn't. The Doctor said he will have to continue having venesections every few months for the foreseeable future - however, this will then run the risk of giving him an iron deficiency . My question are - what are the chances of this polycythemia turning into something more severe? - is an iron deficiency be worrying? - why can't the doctors find the cause behind this? He is so young - from what I have read polycythemia happens to old men. - is there anything he can do to help this condition? Any lifestyle changes? Lastly - I am pregnant - should I worry about this being passed on to our child? Thanks
Posted Thu, 20 Feb 2014 in Blood Disorders
 
 
Answered by Dr. Raju A.T 15 hours later
Brief Answer: Answers are below Detailed Answer: Hi, Thanks for your query. - what are the chances of this polycythemia turning into something more severe? ---The progression of the Polycythemia can be decided only based on the cause. Continuing existence of the cause results in more severe polycythemia. - is an iron deficiency be worrying? ---Iron deficiency due to venesection specially in a case of Polycythemia is not serious. As a continuous observation would be on going. - why can't the doctors find the cause behind this? He is so young - from what I have read polycythemia happens to old men. --- Do take a second opinion from another Hematologist. Finding cause for polycythemia though difficult is not impossible and also essential in management. - is there anything he can do to help this condition? Any lifestyle changes? ---Regular exercise, Aerobics and iron rich diet would suffice. Also get his Erythropoietin and testosterone levels estimated if not done previously. No, need not worry. The chance of inheritance is very rare. Once the cause is made, we can for sure rule out the possibility of inheritance completely. Regards,
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