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Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria – Symptoms & causes

The paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria is a rare blood disease which stems from your genes. If you have paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, then your immune system is attacking red blood cells in your body and it breaks them down. They lack certain proteins which protect them. It is known that the paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria can be caught on any age. You should know that you are not born with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.

This condition can be life – threatening and treatments can help you to feel better and control some of its complications. This condition can affect every single person differently. Some people with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria can have only minor problems while for other people can be much more severe. The biggest risk which this condition wears is blood clots. It is noticed that about 40% of people who have paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria have one at some point.



The dark or bright red blood in your urine at night or in the morning is the reason why this condition has the name paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. The term “paroxysmal” means sudden, “nocturnal” means at night and “hemoglobinuria” means blood in the uterine. The paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria usually happens in over 60% of people who have PNH. The symptoms of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria are caused by:

Blood clots in your veins

Anemia which is caused by too few red blood cells

Broken red blood cells

You can have many symptoms of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria or just a few. It is known that the more of faulty blood cells you have in your blood, the more this condition will affect you. The broken red blood cells and anemia can make you:

Bruise easily

Have pale or yellowish skin

Have trouble swallowing

Have belly pain

Have an irregular heartbeat

Feel short of breath

Have headaches

Feel tired and weak

Also, men can have trouble getting or keeping an erection. Also, the symptoms of blood clots depend on where the clot happens:

Skin: There can be red, painful or swollen area on your skin.

Arm or leg: There can be sore, warm and swollen limb.

Stomach: There can be pain, as well as ulcers and bleeding.

Brain: You can have a bad headache with or without vomiting. Also, you can have seizure. You can have troubles with moving, talking or seeing.

Lungs: You can have troubles with your breathing. You can feel sharp chest pain. You may cough up blood. You can notice sweating.

You should know that blood clots can be dangerous. If you think that you have blood clots, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible. If you have any trouble breathing, feel like you are going to pass out, or have a seizure, then you should seek emergency help. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and the symptoms that you have. You should tell him or her if you have taken some medications for paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. Also, if you have been tested for aplastic anemia or a bone marrow disorder, then you should tell him or her.


The paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria is genetic condition. You should know that you do not get it from your parents and you cannot pass it on your children. A mutation, which is a change in the gene, can cause your body to make abnormal red blood cells. These cells do not have proteins which will shield them from the immune system which means that your body breaks down. Experts are calling this process “hemolysis”. There are some doctors who believe that the paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria is related to the weak bone marrow.

Those people who have a certain type of anemia, called aplastic anemia, are having highest chances of getting paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. Also, the reverse is true. Those people who have paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria are having high risk of getting aplastic anemia but not every single person with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria gets aplastic anemia. When you have this condition, then your bone marrow stop making new blood cells.

Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar
Dr. Ramesh kumar, BAMS is naturopathy doctor who is well versed with health benefits of all fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants


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