If your body’s immune system begins to view your red blood cells as foreign and starts launching series of attacks on the red blood cells, leading to a decrease in the amount of functional red blood cells, this clinical condition is known as immune haemolytic anaemia. Although, a very rare condition, Immune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA) is as a type of anaemia that occurs due to antibodies (auto antibodies), causing premature destruction of red blood cells in the human body. The destruction of red blood cells is known as haemolysis. Red blood cells are vital for the transport of oxygen all over the body and so when there is a condition of anaemia, the body will be short of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, leading to oxygen deficiency in the body.

Classes of AIHA

  1. Warm type AIHA: This is the most common type of AIHA. It occurs at room temperature or 37°C. It is also known as warm haemolysis
  2. Cold type AIHA: This is less a common type of AIHA and it occurs between 0° to 4°C. It is also known as cold
  3. Primary AIHA is identified when there is no sign of any underlying condition.
  4. Secondary AIHA is identified when there is a link with another condition.

Symptoms of (AIHA)

Symptoms of immune haemolytic anaemia are, but not limited to;

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Paleness
  • Confusion
  • Jaundice
  • Dark colored urine
  • Light-headedness
  • Heart palpitations

It is advisable to visit your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis.

Causes of (AIHA)

The causes of this condition is not properly understood. AIHA may be due to exposure to certain chemicals, radiation, blood transfusion, or drugs. Many AIHA patients have underlying disorder and therefore, it is vital that the clinician investigates these patients in detail. There are primary and secondary causes of  immune haemolytic anaemia. Primary causes of AIHA are not linked with any underlying illnesses. Secondary AIHA develops as a result of other underlying ilnesses.

Secondary causes

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other blood cancers
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Hepatitis
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • HIV
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus

How (AIHA) is diagnosed

  • Direct antiglobulin test (DAT): Gives better assessment to the clinician
  • Complete blood count
  • Biopsy
  • Urine test to check for haemoglobin
  • Blood test

Treatment of immune haemolytic anaemia

Treatment of AIHA depends on the underlying cause of the disease and the severity of haemolysis. Other factors such as age, and medical history will also be used for proper treatment

  • Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or immunosuppressant drugs to weaken immune response. However these drugs are not without side effects.
  • In severe cases, there might be need for a blood transfusion.
  • Splenectomy may be required in some cases.

Prevention

There is no prevention for AIHA. It is advisable to visit the doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms.