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Hemoglobin C disease

Definition

Hemoglobin C disease is a blood disorder passed down through families. It leads to a type of anemia, which occurs when red blood cells break down earlier than normal.

Alternative Names

Clinical hemoglobin C

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Hemoglobin C is an abnormal type of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. It is a type of hemoglobinopathy. The disease is caused by problem with a gene called beta globin.

The disease most often occurs in African Americans. You are more likely to have hemoglobin C disease if someone in your family has had it.

Symptoms

Most people do not have symptoms. Occasionally, jaundice may occur. Some persons with this disease may develop gallstones that require treatment.

Signs and tests

Physical examination may show an enlarged spleen.

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment

Usually no treatment is needed. Folic acid supplementation may help your body produce normal red blood cells and improve the symptoms of the anemia.

Expectations (prognosis)

People with hemoglobin C disease can expect to lead a normal life.

Complications

Complications include anemia, gall bladder disease, and enlargement of the spleen.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of hemoglobin C disease.

Prevention

Genetic counseling may be appropriate for high-risk couples who wish to have a baby.

References

Steinberg MH. Sickle cell disease and associated hemoglobinopathies. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 167.


Review Date: 2/5/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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