What Are the Symptoms of Polycythemia Vera?

Shortness of breath, especially when lying down; numbness, tingling or burning of the extremities; and itchiness with excessive sweating are among the symptoms of polycythemia vera, explains Mayo Clinic. Headaches with dizziness or weakness, gouty arthritis and fullness in the upper left quadrant of the belly are also symptoms.

Polycythemia vera is caused by a mutation in the JAK2V617F gene, notes Healthline. The condition rarely occurs before the age of 40. Men are affected more often than women.

Blood letting, or phlebotomy, is a front line treatment for polycythemia vera, states Mayo Clinic. The treatment decreases blood cell counts and reduces blood volume. A low-dose aspirin regimen may be utilized to reduce the risk of blood clotting. For those with a more serious condition, chemotherapy and immune therapies may be used to decrease the bone marrow's ability to make new blood cells. SSRI antidepressants, antihistamines and ultraviolet light therapy may be used to treat itchy skin.

Polycythemia vera is a chronic myeloproliferative disorder marked by an increase in red blood cells, according to the University of Chicago Medicine. While red blood cells are most commonly affected, polycythemia vera may also cause increases in white blood cells and platelets. The higher number of cells make the blood thick, increasing the risk for blood clots, strokes and other tissue damage.