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Hemoglobin C disease

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.

Causes

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 a 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. In some cases, jaundice may occur. Some people may develop gallstones that need to be treated.

Exams and Tests

Treatment

In most cases, no treatment is needed. Folic acid supplements may help your body produce normal red blood cells and improve the symptoms of the anemia.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

  • Anemia
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Enlargement of the spleen

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

Prevention

You may want to seek genetic counseling if you are at high risk for the condition and are considering having a baby.

Alternative Names

Clinical hemoglobin C

Images

References

DeBaun MR, Frei-Jones MJ, Vichinsky EP. Hemoglobinopathies. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 462.

Steinberg MH. Sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 163.

Wilson CS, Vergara-Lluri ME, Brynes RK. Evaluation of anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia. In: Jaffee ES, Arber DA, Campo E, Harris NL, Quintanilla-Martinez L, eds. Hematopathology.  2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 11.

Review Date 1/19/2018

Updated by: Richard LoCicero, MD, private practice specializing in hematology and medical oncology, Longstreet Cancer Center, Gainesville, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.