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Erythrocytosis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Nov 24, 2022   -  5 min read


The condition of erythrocytosis refers to the body's overproduction of red blood cells (RBCs). Read on to know more about it.


What Is Erythrocytosis?

Erythrocytosis is characterized by an abnormally high concentration of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the blood. The blood is made up of solid components such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It also has a liquid component known as plasma. Erythrocytosis is defined as having an abnormally high number of red blood cells (a solid component) in comparison to plasma (the liquid part). Polycythemia is another term for erythrocytosis. Erythrocytosis is characterized by elevated levels of hematocrit (the number of red blood cells) and hemoglobin (an essential protein found in red blood cells).

What Are the Types of Erythrocytosis?

Erythrocytosis is classified into two types: primary and secondary. While both types result in an increase in red blood cells, they do so for different reasons.

  1. Erythrocytosis Primary: This type of erythrocytosis occurs when the bone marrow has a problem that causes it to produce an abnormally large number of red blood cells. Primary erythrocytosis can be congenital, meaning the patients were born with it, or acquired, meaning they developed it later in life.

  2. Erythrocytosis Secondary: This type of erythrocytosis occurs when the body produces an abnormally large number of blood cells, but it is not caused by a problem with the bone marrow. This type is usually caused by something affecting erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone produced by the kidneys that drive red blood cell production.

Absolute erythrocytosis is caused by a wider range of factors than relative erythrocytosis. It is further classified based on whether the causes are primary or secondary.

What Are the Causes of Erythrocytosis?

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Erythrocytosis?

The severity of the symptoms will be determined by the cause of the erythrocytosis.

How to Diagnose Erythrocytosis?

Various tests and procedures may be performed by the healthcare provider to determine what is causing the high concentration of red blood cells. To begin, they will ask questions about the medical history, medications they are taking, lifestyle, and symptoms to rule out relative erythrocytosis (too little plasma in the blood). They may also conduct a physical examination.

How to Treat Erythrocytosis?

Treatment aims to reduce the risk of blood clots while also alleviating symptoms. It frequently entails lowering the RBC count.

How to Manage Erythrocytosis?

In the meantime, specific lifestyle changes such as,


Erythrocytosis is characterized by an abnormally high concentration of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the blood. The healthcare provider will work with the patients to determine what is causing their high red blood cell concentration. Simple lifestyle changes, such as reducing or discontinuing medication, may resolve the problem in some cases. If the erythrocytosis is caused by a more serious condition, the provider will closely monitor the patient's condition to ensure they receive the necessary treatment. Smoking, hypoxia, and diuretics are common secondary causes.


Last reviewed at:
24 Nov 2022  -  5 min read




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