The immune system consists of a defense system that shields the body against invasion from infections and other diseases. In a traditionally healthy person, the immune system has the ability to differentiate between its own cells and those cells that represent threats to the health of the body. (Craft and Kanter, 2002). Autoimmune disorders are the results of a breakdown of the body's ability to acknowledge its own cells from foreign cell that causes it to produce an immune response against itself. As a result, the body's own defense mechanism produces antibodies that attack the body's own tissues and cells. (Franz, 2006, Laberge, Davidson, 2007).
I decided to learn more about autoimmune hemolytic anemia after my six-year was diagnosed with the disease in September. His symptoms appeared rather suddenly. He experienced extreme weakness, he unable to walk without collapsing from shear exhaustion, his gums were pale, and he had lost his appetite to eat. Normally he would be very energetic and hyper, like most six-years. On September 1st, 2010, I took my six-year old to the doctor to find out why he was so weak and what the underlying causes of his condition were. The doctor ordered a complete blood count test or CBC blood test. A CBC blood test involves taking a small sample of blood and analyzing the amount of red and white blood cells, and platelets contained in the blood. (American Association for Clinical Chemistry, 2009).
When the CBC results came back, there was evidence showing that his white blood cell count was unusually high and an abnormally low red blood cell count. The doctor determined that he had autoimmune hemolytic anemia. He also had a badly bloated abdomen, which his doctor said could be the result of an enlarged spleen. Once the diagnosis was made, he was placed on a high dose of prednisone in hopes of halting the destruction of his red blood cells.
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia symptoms may appear rapidly or gradually. The symptoms include low red blood cell count, increased heart rate and respiration, weakness, fatigue, an enlarged spleen, and jaundice. Other symptoms can also include a loss of appetite, vomiting, blood present in the urine and stools, and abdominal pain. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia also seems to be more prevalent among women than with men, it is not race specific, and seems more prevalent among middle-aged and older individuals. (Schwartz, 2007).
Several tests are used to diagnose autoimmune hemolytic anemia and help determine how severe the condition is. A more common test performed is a CBC blood. As mentioned before, a CBC test analyzes the amount of red and white blood cells, and also the number of platelets contained in the blood. Abnormal results may indicate autoimmune hemolytic anemia or another blood condition. (American Association for Clinical Chemistry, 2009, Odle, 2006).
A Coombs’ blood test is another common test used in diagnosing autoimmune hemolytic anemia and other autoimmune...