Polycythemia Vera

Polycythemia Vera Symptoms

When there is an increased blood volume and viscosity (thickness), complications associated with this disease can occur. The following are the most common symptoms of polycythemia vera. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue and/or weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing while lying down
  • Visual disturbance, such as double vision, blurred vision, and blind spots
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Night sweats
  • Flushed complexion
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding
  • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
  • Bruising
  • Itchy skin (particularly after a hot bath)
  • Gout
  • Numbness
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Arterial or venous thrombosis, considered the most serious complications of polycythemia vera, can occur, resulting in a heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. Liver and spleen enlargement are other potential complications. The symptoms of polycythemia vera may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Polycythemia Vera Diagnosis

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for polycythemia may include blood tests to observe the increased number of red blood cells in the body, and distinguish polycythemia vera from other conditions that could cause the red blood cell count to increase (such as certain cardiac and respiratory diseases, erythremia, and certain tumors).

Your health care provider may also perform blood tests to determine whether you have a genetic mutation in a gene called janus kinase 2, or JAK2.