Your guide to the symptoms of PV

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Once I had my official diagnosis and I read up about the symptoms, I realised I had been living with the illness for a while, as many of the symptoms were not new to me. I was in shock as it was discovered by chance, but at least I am now getting the help and support I need to properly manage my illness.

PV causes few, if any, symptoms in the early stages. In some people, it may only be picked up during routine blood tests or during a medical examination when a physician notices one of the potential symptoms, e.g. skin redness or an enlarged spleen.

As the condition progresses, those affected may experience a range of symptoms and these can vary in severity.

What are the key symptoms of PV?

PV can cause a number of different symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin (pruritus) – particularly after showering/taking a bath or swimming
  • Skin redness – particularly the face
  • Blurred vison and headaches
  • Bleeding or unusual clotting
  • Joint pain or gout
  • Dizzy spells
  • Fever/night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fullness/swelling in the left upper abdomen (tummy) due to an enlarged spleen

+ Living with PV: the outlook

The outlook for those affected by PV depends on many factors including age and other existing health problems.

The risk of complications is greater in people with PV over the age of 60, those who have had a blood clot in the past or those who have other risk factors for cardiac disease, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

PV is a progressive disease (it gets worse over time) but it may remain stable for many years or may only progress slowly. Patients who do not suffer from other diseases or from complications of PV (such as blood clots) usually have a normal or only slightly reduced life expectancy.

About 15% of patients with PV will go on to develop another type of MPN called myelofibrosis (MF). In people with MF, scar tissue forms in the bone marrow and this affects the production of normal blood cells.

A small percentage of patients may go on to develop a type of leukemia called Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The prognosis for this is poorer as there are limited treatment options.

How PV is diagnosed and treated >

< Making sense of PV