Polycythemia Vera is a slow-growing blood cancer where your bone marrow makes too many red blood cells. These excess cells thicken your blood, slowing its flow, which may cause serious complications, such as blood clots. The signs and symptoms of this condition can vary greatly from person to person. Some people may not even experience any symptoms at all.
The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Polycythemia Vera include:
- Headaches: This is a common symptom and can range from mild to severe.
- Dizziness or vertigo: Patients may feel unsteady or have a sensation of motion when they are stationary.
- Itching: This is often worse after a hot bath or shower. It is caused by high levels of histamine released from the excess red blood cells.
- Excessive sweating: This can be particularly noticeable at night.
- Blurred vision or blind spots: These vision changes can occur due to increased blood thickness and reduced blood flow.
- Reddish or purplish skin: This is due to the increased number of red blood cells.
- Shortness of breath: This can occur due to the increased blood volume and viscosity (a resistance of the blood flow).
- Unexplained weight loss: Some patients may experience a decrease in appetite and subsequent weight loss.
- Fatigue: This is a common symptom due to the body's increased effort to circulate the blood.
- Bone pain: This can occur due to the overactive bone marrow.
Seek Care For Your Polycythemia Vera
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. While Polycythemia Vera is a serious condition, it can often be managed effectively with the right treatment plan. Your healthcare provider will be able to conduct a thorough examination and order appropriate tests to confirm a diagnosis. Treatment typically involves reducing the thickness of your blood and preventing blood clots. This can often be achieved with low-dose aspirin and medication, as well as periodic removal of blood from your body (phlebotomy).
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and want to know what has worked for other blood cancer patients, visit HealthTree's Side Effect Solutions tool. Here you can search for the symptoms you are experiencing and read about what's worked (and what hasn't worked) for patients just like you.