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Hemoglobin C disease

Contents of this page:


Blood cells
Blood cells

Alternative Names    Return to top

Clinical hemoglobin C

Definition    Return to top

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

Causes    Return to top

Hemoglobin C is a problem with hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carry 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 develop hemoglobin C disease if someone in your family has had it.

Symptoms    Return to top

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

Exams and Tests    Return to top

Physical examination reveals an enlarged spleen.

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment    Return to top

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

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

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

Possible Complications    Return to top

Complications include episodes of pain, hip problems, vision problems, and gallbladder disease.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

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

Prevention    Return to top

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

References    Return to top

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2007:1225-1226.

Update Date: 11/14/2008

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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