Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Bleeding and Clotting Disorders

Polycythemia Vera in 18 Year Old



My 18 year old son is being seen by a family physician for an elevated red blood cell count. It is only slightly elevated, so he may just lean toward a higher average than most. However, he has had a number of other symptoms for years: abdominal pain, sensitivity to changes in temperature (with the hands & feet becoming blotchy red), fatigue, insomnia and asthma, to name the worst symptoms. I was told by one oncologist he saw that "if he was 70 years old then I would know what is wrong with him." The same doctor told me that someone my son`s age would not have polycythemia vera. How common is this disorder in youth and what are the main symptoms and tests? Thank you!!


This disorder is somewhat rare in younger adults such as your son. There are a lot of additional factors that need to be considered in evaluating someone with an elevated hemoglobin or RBC count. I would encourage you to talk to your son's physician and consider a referral to a hematologist with experience with these blood disorders. Many times one can be found at a university hospital that is near by.

I hope this helps, but it is not possible to give a more detailed answer without knowing more of the specifics of your son's case and being able to talk with and examine him.

For more information:

Go to the Bleeding and Clotting Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Spero R Cataland, MD Spero R Cataland, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University