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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects




My son (9)recently had a blood test that showed he had polycythemia. His father has it, his grandfather on his dad`s side as well as he great grandmother.

His orignal symtpoms were headaches, dizziness and just feeling bad. We have been able to deal with the headaches and dizziness by keeping him hydrated.

The one complaint he continues to have is stomach discomfort. He feels nausea, and general discomfort over his entire abdomen. We have noticed it is worse with soda expesically Pepsi and Coke, fried foods and sweet things.

Are there any dietary recommendation he should be following? Could he be developing an ulcer at such a young age? (Tums or zyantac don`t work either). I am at a loss what to do for him. He goes to school not feeling well however I can`t keep him home everyday either. Any suggestions?


Given the family history, the polycythemia is likely caused by an inherited abnormal hemoglobin called a high affinity hemoglobin. These patients usually do well and have minimal problems. Good hydration is important and, if more severe, some patients require having blood taken out of their body (phlebotomy) every 3-6 weeks.

That being said, I don't think his abdominal pain is related to the polycythemia. The association with fatty foods makes me concerned about gallstones, but I would defer to a GI specialist and certainly suggest that he is seen by his pediatrician.

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Response by:

Anthony D Villella, MD Anthony D Villella, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University