What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

How to know if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
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Irritable bowel syndrome, or irritable bowel disease, is a long-term gastrointestinal disorder. It causes abdominal pain, bloating, mucous in stools, irregular bowel habits, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD), is also known as spastic colitis, mucus colitis, and nervous colon. It is a chronic, or long-term, condition, but symptoms tend to change over the years.

IBS can cause persistent discomfort, but most people will not experience severe complications.

Symptoms often improve as individuals learn to manage the condition. Severe and persistent severe symptoms are rare. Fast facts on irritable bowel syndrome

Here are some key points about irritable bowel syndrome.

  • IBS can cause discomfort, but it does not usually lead to serious complications.
  • Currently, there is no cure for IBS.
  • Dietary and emotional factors can play a key role in IBS.
  • Reducing alcohol intake can ease symptoms.
  • Excluding foods that cause gas can also improve symptoms.

IBS can lead to discomfort and abdominal pain.

The most common symptoms experienced by people with IBS are:

  • changes in bowel habits
  • abdominal pain and cramping, which often lessen after using the bathroom
  • a feeling that the bowels are not fully emptied after using the bathroom
  • excess gas
  • passing of mucus from the back passage, or rectum
  • a sudden urgent need to use the bathroom
  • swelling or bloating of the abdomen
  • frequent urination
  • halitosis, or bad breath
  • headache
  • joint or muscle pain
  • persistent fatigue
  • pain with sex (for females) or sexual dysfunction
  • irregular menses
  • foods that cause flatulence, such as beans, celery, onions, carrots, raisins, bananas, apricots, prunes, brussel sprouts, pretzels, and bagels
  • dairy products
  • sugar-free gum
  • some candies
  • products with caffeine in them, maybe due to lactose (sugar), sorbitol, or caffeine intolerance, rather than IBS
  • diet
  • environmental factors, such as stress
  • genetic factors
  • hormones
  • digestive organs being excessively sensitive to pain
  • an unusual response to infection
  • a malfunction in the muscles used to move food through the body
  • an inability of the central nervous system (CNS) to control the digestive system properly
  • consuming more oat-based foods to reduce gas or bloating
  • not skipping meals and eating at the same time every day
  • eating slowly
  • limiting alcohol intake
  • avoiding carbonated sugary beverages, such as soda
  • limiting intake of certain fruits and vegetables
  • limiting tea and coffee intake to three cups per day
  • drinking enough fluids, at least eight cups of fluid per day for most people

It may help to avoid or limit the intake of resistant starch, commonly found in processed or recooked foods and in some legumes. Resistant starch is not broken down in the digestive tract and counts as a component of dietary fiber.
Anxiety and stress

The following may help reduce or relieve symptoms:

  • relaxation techniques, including exercises or meditation
  • some specific physical activities, such as Tai Chi or yoga
  • regular physical exercise
  • stress counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)


The following medications are used for IBS symptoms:

  • Antispasmodic medications reduce abdominal cramping and pain by relaxing the muscles in the gut.
  • Bulk-forming laxatives can help relieve constipation. These can be purchased over-the-counter or online, although they should be used with caution.
  • Antimotility medications for diarrhea include loperamide, which slows down the contractions of the intestinal muscles. Loperamide may be purchased online.
  • Tricyclic antidepressant (TCAs) often help to reduce abdominal pain and cramping.

Medications specific to IBS treatment include:

alosetron (Lotronex) for severe diarrhea-predominant IBS in women
lubiprostone (Amitiza) for constipation-predominant IBS in women

These are usually the last line of treatment, when other lifestyle or therapeutic interventions have failed, and symptoms remain severe.
Psychological therapy

Some psychological techniques can be useful:

Psychodynamic interpersonal therapy (PIT), where the therapist helps the patient explore their past to find out whether anything may have affected them unconsciously.
Hypnotherapy can help alter the unconscious mind's attitude to symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) fosters strategies for reacting differently to the condition through relaxation techniques and a positive attitude.

Exercise can help reduce symptoms in some people.

IBS is uncomfortable, but it generally does not have serious medical implications.

No specific imaging or laboratory test can diagnose IBS.

Diagnosis involves ruling out conditions that produce IBS-like symptoms and then following a procedure to categorize the symptoms.

There are 3 main types of IBS:

  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C): There is stomach pain, discomfort, bloating, infrequent or delayed bowel movements, or hard or lumpy stools.
  • IIBS with diarrhea (IBS-D): There is stomach pain, discomfort, an urgent need to go to the toilet, very frequent bowel movements, or watery or loose stools.
  • IIBS with alternating stool pattern (IBS-A): There is both constipation and diarrhea.

Many people experience different types of IBS as time goes by.

The doctor can often diagnose IBS by asking about symptoms, for example:

  • Have there been any changes in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation?
  • Is there any pain or discomfort in your abdomen?
  • How often do you feel bloated?

A blood test may help rule out other possible conditions, including:

  • lactose intolerance
  • small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • celiac disease

If specific signs or symptoms suggest another condition, further testing may be required.

These could be:

  • anemia
  • localized swelling in the rectum and abdomen
  • weight loss (unexplained)
  • abdominal pain at night
  • progressively worsening symptoms
  • significant blood in the stool
  • family history of inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, or celiac disease

Patients with a history of ovarian cancer may require further testing, as will patients over the age of 60 whose change in bowel habits have persisted for longer than 6 weeks.

Risk factors

The following groups of people are more likely to have IBS:

  • Younger adults: IBS affects people of all ages, but diagnosis usually occurs before the age of 45 years, often at 20 to 30 years.
  • Gender: It is more likely to affect women.
  • Family history: If a close relative has or has had IBS, there may be a higher chance of developing it. However, there is no clear link.
  • Environment: Ongoing research is investigating whether the family-history risk of IBS is linked to genes, a shared family environment, or both.
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    Psyllium Husk Health Benefits



    Psyllium Husk Health Benefits

    Psyllium husk is a common, high-fiber laxative made from the seeds of a shrub. It’s also used to treat a number of conditions, such as high cholesterol and colon cancer, which may benefit from a high-fiber diet; however, some of these uses do not have proven benefits. Psyllium does cause some serious side effects, so talk to your doctor before taking it.

    Digestive Difficulties

    Psyllium has been proven to relieve constipation, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. When it comes into contact with water, psyllium swells into a gelatinous mass that pushes stool through the digestive tract. This same process also makes it useful to treat mild to moderate diarrhea, because psyllium soaks up excess water from the digestive tract, which hardens diarrhea and makes it slower to pass. Laxatives like psyllium can be helpful if you have hemorrhoids. However, studies have shown mixed results for people with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. If you have any of these diseases, consult your doctor before using psyllium.

    High Cholesterol

    Soluble fiber, the type contained in psyllium, can help lower cholesterol, according to the UMMC. Psyllium appears to lower both total cholesterol as well as LDL or bad cholesterol, which might reduce the risk of heart disease. When combined with a low-fat diet or cholesterol-lowering drugs, psyllium appears to boost the benefit of either of these approaches to lowering cholesterol.

    Other Uses

    Because it is a good source of fiber, psyllium is used for a number of other conditions for which there is not enough scientific evidence to know whether it really works or not, according to the UMMC. In general, though, nutritionists agree that it is better to get fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which contain a host of other helpful nutrients, than it is to take a supplement, according to the American Cancer Society. After some early and optimistic studies, many people began taking psyllium to protect against colon cancer. But more recent, better-designed research has found little benefit to this. Other unproven uses of psyllium are as treatments for diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

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    Stem cell transplant slows down MS progression

    A preliminary clinical trial shows that stem cell transplantation, along with a tolerable dose of chemotherapy, is safe and more effective at slowing down multiple sclerosis than other existing therapies.

    Stem cell transplant slows down MS

    Scientists were able to slow down MS progression in a new clinical trial using stem cell transplantation.

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurodegenerative condition affecting about 400,000 individuals in the United States and over 2 million people across the globe.

    According to the new clinical trial, 85 percent of these people have so-called relapse-remitting MS. This means that their symptoms often worsen during flare-up periods, but they also alternate with remission phases.

    In MS, the body’s immune system does not recognize its own central nervous system, so it attacks myelin, the protective sheath around nerve cells.

    While there is no known cure for MS, current treatment includes so-called disease-modifying therapies, such as interferons, glatiramer acetate, or monoclonal antibodies, which reduce inflammation and slow down the disease.

    However, these therapies are not entirely effective. The latest trial also notes that after 2 years of treatment, between 30 and 50 percent of people have “no evidence of disease activity.” After 4 years of treatment, this drops to 18 percent.

    This new research suggests that stem cell therapy may be a more effective way of slowing down the progression of the disease.

    The trial was led by Dr. Richard K. Burt, from the Division of Immunotherapy at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL. The team set out to compare the effect of stem cell transplantation with that of conventional disease-modifying therapies on MS progression.

    Dr. Burt and his colleagues published the results of their trial in the journal JAMA.

    Stem cell transplant ‘more effective’

    As Dr. Burt and his colleagues explain in their paper, “hematopoietic stem cell transplantation” aims to eliminate “autoreactive” lymphocytes — one of the main type of immune cells in the human body — and “restart a new immune system in a non-inflammatory environment.”

    According to the paper, previous case studies have found that 70 percent of those who benefited from a stem cell transplant experienced disease-free remission for 4 years.

    For the current trial, the scientists recruited 110 patients from four medical centers across the U.S. between 2005 and 2016.

    The trial participants were 18–55 years old and had “highly active” relapse-remitting MS.

    Dr. Burt and team randomly assigned these participants to either receive disease-modifying therapy, as recommended by their neurologist, or stem cell transplantation.

    The second group received a stem cell transplant in a “non-myeloablative regimen,” which means that they also received a lower, more tolerable dose of chemotherapy.

    The main outcome monitored by the researchers was disease progression. They also examined the participants’ neurologic disability, their quality of life, time to relapse, and evidence of disease activity.

    Overall, stem cell transplantation “was more effective than disease-modifying therapy for patients with relapsing-remitting MS,” report the researchers. Stem cell therapy resulted in “prolonged time to disease progression.”

    The therapy also improved other outcomes, including the participants’ daily functioning, quality of life, and neurological functioning.

    However, “Further research is needed to replicate these findings and to assess long-term outcomes and safety,” caution the researchers.

    “To our knowledge,” they write, “this is the first randomized trial of [stem cell transplantation] in patients with relapsing-remitting MS.”

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    Integrase inhibitors give greater chance of viral suppression in pregnant women


    Integrase inhibitors give greater chance of viral suppression at delivery in pregnant women


    Integrase inhibitor-based treatment with either raltegravir (Isentress) or dolutegravir (Tivicay, also in Triumeq) reduces viral load more rapidly than efavirenz if started in pregnancy, findings from two randomised studies presented at the ) in Seattle show.

    Investigators on the raltegravir study say that their findings support the use of raltegravir-based antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy, especially for women who start treatment late in pregnancy.

    Professor Saye Khoo of Liverpool University said that the findings of the DOLPHIN-2 study of dolutegravir initiated in late pregnancy suggest that dolutegravir is a drug that could be used in this high-risk situation for mother-to-infant transmission.

    Many women with HIV learn of their HIV status when they are tested during pregnancy, often after the first trimester. Reducing viral load rapidly during pregnancy is essential to achieve an undetectable viral load at the time of delivery. Undetectable viral load at delivery maximises the chance that HIV will not be transmitted during delivery.

    But achieving undetectable viral load at delivery requires diagnosis of HIV and treatment initiation in time to suppress viral load. In South Africa, one-fifth of pregnant women start treatment in the third trimester of pregnancy (week 24 onwards).

    Integrase inhibitors reduce viral load more quickly than other antiretroviral drugs, so a combination that includes an integrase inhibitor might be expected to increase the likelihood of viral suppression by the time of delivery in women who start antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy.

    However, the safety and efficacy of integrase inhibitor treatment in pregnancy has not previously been tested in a randomised trial.

    As integrase inhibitor-based treatment becomes the standard of care in many countries, it is important to know whether an integrase inhibitor is more effective than efavirenz (the currently recommended standard of care for pregnant women) in suppressing viral load during pregnancy.

    Safety is also a major concern. Although integrase inhibitors have been used to treat tens of thousands of people, there are few data on their use in pregnant women, especially from randomised studies.

    Preliminary data from an observational study in Botswana showed an increased risk of neural tube defects in infants exposed to dolutegravir in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The foetus is vulnerable to birth defects due to drug exposure during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as organs and tissues form. In later pregnancy (after week 12) drug exposure may affect infant growth or lead to premature delivery or may cause side-effects for the


    Raltegravir-based ART started in pregnancy


    The NICHD P1081 study randomised previously untreated women initiating antretroviral therapy (ART) in later pregnancy (after week 20) to receive either raltegravir- or efavirenz-based ART.

    The trial was carried out in South America, Africa, Thailand and the United States between 2013 and 2018. It recruited 408 women, of whom 307 had no genotypic resistance to any study drug at study entry. The trial recruited an even number of women who commenced treatment between 20 weeks and 28 weeks of gestation, and women who commenced treatment between 28 weeks and 37 weeks of gestation.

    The study population was predominantly Hispanic (53%) and black (36%) with a median viral load at study entry of 3.9 log10 copies/ml (just under 8000 copies/ml). The median gestational age at study entry was 29.6 weeks.

    The primary analysis of the study was confined to 307 women without genotypic resistance. In this population, significantly more women randomised to raltegravir had an undetectable viral load below 200 copies/ml at delivery (94% vs 84%, p < 0.001) and this association was strongest in women who had started treatment after week 28 (93% vs 71%). The rate of viral load suppression did not differ at the time of delivery in women who initiated treatment prior to week 28.

    When the investigators examined responses according to speed of viral load reduction and persistence on therapy, it became clear that achieving very rapid viral load reduction and staying on treatment up to delivery most strongly differentiated between raltegravir and efavirenz.

    Ninety-two per cent of women randomised to raltegravir achieved either a 2log decline in viral load, or a reduction viral load below 200 copies/ml at week 2 and maintained a viral load below 1000 copies/ml at all time points after week 4 and remained on study drug to the time of delivery. In comparison, only 64% of women randomised to efavirenz achieved all these outcomes. The difference was most pronounced in rapid viral load reduction; 93% of women on raltegravir achieved either a 2log decline in viral load or a reduction viral load below 200 copies/ml at week 2, compared to 69% of women on efavirenz.

    The median time to viral suppression below 200 copies/ml was 8 days in women receiving raltegravir and 15 days in women receiving efavirenz.

    There was no difference in any adverse outcome for mother or infant, including stillbirth, pre-term birth or grade 3 or 4 maternal adverse events, between the two study arms. Six infants in efavirenz arm and one infant in the raltegravir arm were found to be HIV PCR positive after delivery; all had been born to mothers who enrolled at 28 weeks of gestation or


    Dolutegravir-based ART started in late pregnancy

    The DOLPHIN-2 study randomised previously untreated women initiating ART from week 28 of pregnancy to receive either dolutegravir- or efavirenz-based ART.The study recruited 268 women, of whom 237 were evaluated for efficacy. There was no significant difference in baseline viral load (4.5 log10 copies/ml) or median gestation at baseline (31 weeks), nor in the median duration of ART prior to delivery (52 days dolutegravir, 59 days efavirenz).


    At delivery, a significantly higher proportion of women in the dolutegravir arm had a viral load below 50 copies/ml (the primary outcome) (73.8% vs 42.6%, p < 0.0001). Women in the

    dolutegravir arm were 66% more likely to have an undetectable viral load by the time of delivery (adjusted RR 1.66, 9%% CI 1.32-2.09). Baseline viral load and week of pregnancy at initiation did not affect the result and dolutegravir was also superior to efavirenz when assessed according to the proportion of women with a viral load below 1000 copies/ml at delivery (93% vs 83%).

    There was no difference in maternal adverse events between the two study arms, nor in median gestational age at delivery (39.9 weeks), nor in premature births. No neural tube defects were reported and there was no difference in congenital abnormalities. Approximately 10% of infants were diagnosed with postnatal infections and eight infants died, consistent with the poor outcomes seen in other studies in which mothers had initiated antiretroviral treatment late in pregnancy.

    Three cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission occurred in this study, all in the dolutegravir arm. The investigators say it is likely that these transmissions occurred in utero, not at the time of



    Mirochnik M et al. Randomized trial of raltegravir-ART vs efavirenz-ART when initiated during pregnancy. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Seattle, abstract 39LB, 2019.

    View the abstract on the conference website.

    Watch the webcast of this presentation on the conference website.

    Kintu K et al. RCT of dolutegravir vs efavirenz-based therapy initiated in late pregnancy: DOLPHIN-2.Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Seattle, abstract 40LB, 2019.

    View the abstract on the conference website.

    Watch the webcast of this presentation on the conference website.

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    Difference Between Alzheimers and Dementia

    Alzheimer’s vs Dementia

    Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are both commonly seen in elderly individuals. Both diseases impair cognitive functions. Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest cause of dementia. Both diseases affect not only memory but also other cognitive functions. Here, we will discuss all those in detail, highlighting their types, clinical features, signs and symptoms, causes, investigation and diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and care, as well as the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia.


    Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, and it worsens with time progressively impairing cognitive functions. The onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease is unique to each patient. The actual reason for Alzheimer’s disease is not yet known. Some hypothesize that it is due to the formation of plaques in the brain and neuronal tangles. Early Alzheimer’s presents as loss of memory of recent events. With time, confusion, unstable mood, irritability, aggressive behavior, trouble with speech and understanding, and poor long term memory appear. Social interactions deteriorate with the progression of the disease. Slowly body functions deteriorate leading to death. It is very difficult to predict the life expectancy and disease progression because of the individual differences.

    In many people, Alzheimer’s disease runs its course undetected. After the diagnosis people usually live for around seven years. Only a small percentage lives beyond fourteen years after the diagnosis. Tests that assess thinking and behavioral abilities confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. A brain scan gives clues towards excluding other diagnosis like stroke, bleeding inside the brain matter, and space occupying lesions.

    Figure 01: Alzheimers Brain

    Treatment options available are not curative. They only relieve symptoms. These drugs do not alter the progression of the disease. Various alternate treatment methods are available, but the safety and efficacy data are not available. A caregiver is essential in management of Alzheimer’s disease.


    Dementia features an impairment of all cognitive functions beyond that due to normal ageing. Dementia is a set of symptoms that may be progressive (most commonly) or static, resulting from degeneration of the cerebral cortex, which controls the “higher” brain functions. It entails a disturbance of memory, thinking, learning ability, language, judgment, orientation, and comprehension. These are accompanied by problems with control of emotions and behavior. Dementia is the commonest among elderly individuals where an estimated 5% of the total population above 65 years of age is involved.  Currently available statistics estimate that 1% of the population below 65 years of age, 5-8% of people between 65–74, 20% of people between 75-84 and 30-50% of people 85 years or older are suffering from dementia. Dementia covers a broad spectrum of clinical features.

    Although there are no distinct types of dementia, it can be broadly divided into three according to the natural history of the disease. Fixed impairment of cognition is a type of dementia which does not progress in terms of severity. It results from some type of organic brain disease or injury. Vascular dementia is a fixed impairment dementia. (Ex: stroke, meningitis, reduction of oxygenation of cerebral circulation). Slowly progressive dementia is a type of dementia which starts out as an intermittent disturbance of higher brain function and slowly worsens to a stage where there is impairment of activities of daily living. This type of dementia is commonly due to diseases where the nerves degenerate slowly (neurodegenerative). Fronto temporal dementia is a slow progressive dementia due to slow degeneration of the frontal lobe structures. Semantic dementia is a slow progressive dementia which features loss of word meaning and speech meaning. Diffuse Lewy body dementia is similar to Alzheimer’s disease except for the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain. (Ex: Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis). Rapidly progressive dementia is a type of dementia which does not take years to manifest itself but does so in mere months. (Ex: Creuzfeldt-Jacob’s disease, prion disease).

    Treating any primary disorder, treating superimposed delirium, treating even minor medical problems, involving family support, arranging practical help at home, arrange help for carers, drug treatment and arranging institutionalized care in case of failure of home care are the basic principles of care for dementia. Drug treatment is used only when the possible side effects are outweighed by the benefits. In severe behavioral changes such as agitation, emotional instability, occasional use of sedatives is warranted (Promazine, Thioridazine). Antipsychotic drugs may be prescribed in delusions and hallucinations. If depressive features are profound, anti-depressant therapy may be started. Cholinesterase inhibitors acting centrally are of use to approximately half of the patients suffering from dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. They appear to delay the progression of cognitive impairment and in some cases may even improve symptoms for a time.

    What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

    • Curability of dementia depends on the cause while Alzheimer’s disease is incurable and progressive.

    • Alzheimer’s disease usually starts as short term amnesia while dementia present in various ways.

    • The main presenting symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss while dementia presents differently according to the type of dementia.

    • Alzheimer’s shows loss of function in the temporal lobe in PET scan while dementia show a global loss of function.

    Image Courtesy:

    1.’Alzheimers brain’ By National Institutes of Health  (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia  

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    Excessive daily TV at older age tied to poorer memory

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    Difference Between Polycythemia and Erythrocytosis

    The key difference between polycythemia and erythrocytosis is that polycythemia refers to the condition in which both red blood cells and haemoglobin increase above the normal level while erythrocytosis refers to the condition where the red blood cell mass increases beyond the normal level.

    Polycythemia and Erythrocytosis occur when there are abnormal levels of red blood cells in the blood. There is a slight distinction between the two terms. Polycythemia is the condition in which both red blood cells and haemoglobin increase above the normal level. On the other hand, erythrocytosis is the condition where the red blood cell mass increases beyond the normal level.


    1. Overview and Key Difference
    2. What is Polycythemia
    3. What is Erythrocytosis
    4. Similarities Between Polycythemia and Erythrocytosis
    5. Side by Side Comparison – Polycythemia vs Erythrocytosis in Tabular Form
    6. Summary

    What is Polycythemia?

    Polycythemia refers to the overproduction of red blood cells. Sometimes, the decrease in plasma levels also leads to polycythemia. It is mainly due to an abnormality in the bone marrow. Also, it can be due to physiological states such as being a recipient twin in pregnancy, etc. The most common treatment for polycythemia is phlebotomy.

    There are two types of polycythemia. They are primary polycythemia also known as polycythemia vera and secondary polycythemia. Primary polycythemia is the overproduction of red blood cells due to abnormalities in the bone marrow. In this condition, white blood cells and thrombocytes are also overproduced.


    Figure 01: Polycythemia

    Secondary polycythemia is caused by natural or artificial factors. Therefore, it is known as physiologic polycythemia. Conditions such as high altitude and hypoxic lung diseases may lead to secondary polycythemia. Genetics play a major role in both primary and secondary polycythemia. Symptoms of polycythemia include dizziness, nausea, headache, increased blood pressure and blurred vision.

    What is Erythrocytosis?

    Erythrocytosis is the condition in which the red blood cells increase abnormally in mass and number. It may be due to a mutation in the gene which controls the red blood cells size and number. Erythrocytosis can also be due to polycythemia. During erythrocytosis, the red blood cell concentration increases in volume. The immediate treatment is phlebotomy.

    Figure 02: Red Blood Cells

    Moreover, erythrocytosis can also occur due to other factors such as smoking, high altitude, tumors and certain medication. The symptoms of erythrocytosis are much similar to that of polycythemia, and therefore, the effects are similar in both cases.

    What are the Similarities Between Polycythemia and Erythrocytosis?

    • Both lead to an increase of red blood cells in the blood.
    • Genetics affects both conditions.
    • Furthermore, the symptoms of both conditions include high blood pressure, dizziness, nausea and headache.
    • Moreover, the treatment for both conditions are similar – phlebotomy.
    • Also, high altitude and smoking also affect both polycythemia and erythrocytosis.

    What is the Difference Between Polycythemia and Erythrocytosis?

    Polycythemia and erythrocytosis are two conditions in the blood that arise due to the abnormal levels of red blood cells. The key difference between polycythemia and erythrocytosis is that polycythemia is the condition which arises due to the abnormal increase of red blood cells and haemoglobin while the erythrocytosis is the condition which arises due to the increased red blood cell mass. During the polycythemia, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets may increase while during the erythrocytosis, only red blood cells increase in number. Hence, it is also a difference between polycythemia and erythrocytosis.

    Difference Between Polycythemia and Erythrocytosis in Tabular Form

    Summary – Polycythemia vs Erythrocytosis

    Polycythemia and erythrocytosis are conditions which go hand in hand. Moreover, polycythemia is one cause of erythrocytosis where there are more red blood cells produced in both cases. The polycythemia is mainly characterized by the abnormalities in the bone marrow which produces red blood cells. Phlebotomy is the treatment procedure for both conditions. The symptoms are also similar, which include high blood pressure, headache and dizziness, etc. This is the summary of the difference between polycythemia and erythrocytosis.


    1. “Erythrocytosis: Definition, Causes, and Symptoms.” Healthline, Healthline Media. Available here  
    2. Valentine, William N., et al. “Polycythemia: Erythrocytosis and Erythremia.” Annals of Internal Medicine, American College of Physicians, 1 Sept. 1968. Available here   

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