Hemolytic anemia is a rare form of anemia. In this disease, red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream prematurely. Healthy red blood cells usually live about 4 months in the bloodstream before the body removes them. In hemolytic anemia, the body breaks down and removes red blood cells faster than it can replace them. The breakdown of red blood cells is called hemolysis.
The two main types of the disease are inherited and acquired. If you’ve inherited this condition, it can come on rapidly or gradually, and be mild or severe. However, hemolytic anemia can often be successfully treated or controlled, depending upon the severity. Severe disease can be life threatening if untreated. When inherited, this condition requires lifelong treatment.
Some types of hemolytic anemia form in the body as it makes and breaks down red blood cells on its own. This process, which occurs in the bloodstream or in the spleen, can be the result of infections, medications, or your own immune system. When contracted in such a way, the anemia may be cured when the infection is treated or the medication that caused it is stopped.