What Does Polycythemia Look Like?

Patients with polycythemia may experience weakness, fatigue, itching, bruising and joint pain, notes MedicineNet. Other symptoms include dizziness, abdominal pain and the presence of additional blood disorders.

A large number of patients with polycythemia experience no or minimal symptoms, states MedicineNet.com. In cases of polycythemia vera, patients may suffer from additional blood disorders that may cause clotting and bleeding. These individuals may also experience itching after showering or bathing, and the palms of the hands and soles of the feet may become tender and red. In cases of secondary polycythemia, patients' symptoms are often more closely related to the underlying condition and may include sleep apnea, chronic cough, low exercise tolerance and shortness of breath.

If the polycythemia is associated with an erythropoietin-secreting tumor such as liver or kidney cancer, predominant symptoms are related to the underlying condition, states MedicineNet. These symptoms may include fullness, jaundice, abdominal pain and weight loss. A doctor diagnoses polycythemia through blood work, a complete medical history and a physical evaluation. The doctor may use other tests such as X-rays to determine any underlying conditions. After being diagnosed, the patient should see a health care professional routinely for evaluation. Individuals should seek immediate medical attention if they experience unstoppable bleeding, severe difficulty breathing or symptoms that suggest stroke.