What is aplastic anemia?
Definition: aplastic anemia is a rare disease because the bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells.
What are the causes of aplastic anemia?
Most cases of aplastic anemia are unknown, but specific treatments for cancer, such as high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, can cause aplastic anemia.
Other possible causes include Vario (benzene-based compounds), prescription drugs, viruses, immune diseases, pregnancy, drugs, and environmental toxins (insecticides and pesticides).
The symptoms and complications of this type of anemia
The symptoms of aplastic anemia occur due to low levels of red blood cells in the body, where people may have pale skin, feel tired, weak, or out of breath. Low platelet counts can cause bruising and bleeding.
People with aplastic anemia may be more likely to get bacterial infections because of the low number of white blood cells that fight infections. Cases of infection and hemorrhage (excessive bleeding) are emergencies and should be treated quickly.
Other symptoms may include a waxy pallor of the skin and mucous membranes, bleeding gums, lack of energy during exercise, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Premenopausal women can have a greater menstrual flow and long duration. Massive bleeding is unusual.
The doctor will perform a complete physical examination to diagnose aplastic anemia to check for paleness, bruising, gum discharge, and other unusual signs.
Blood tests will be ordered to get a complete blood cell count and probably arrangements to get a sample of the bone marrow that can detect abnormalities.
Approximately 40% of men older than 45 years have this condition.
Treatment and prevention of aplastic anemia
The first and most important step of treatment is to find out and treat the cause of aplastic anemia. People with this condition should do everything possible to avoid infections.
If anyone developed an infection, it would be treated aggressively with antibiotics. Transfusions of red blood cells (erythrocytes) and platelets can be considered.
Immunosuppressive therapy is used to treat aplastic anemia caused by an autoimmune disorder (a condition in which the body attacks its bone marrow). Bone marrow transplantation, which replaces defective bone marrow with healthy cells from a regular donor, can be recommended in severe cases.
Blood transfusions are used to replace cells that are not being produced by the bone marrow in the way they should be. They can also substitute red blood cells and platelets, but white blood cells (GB) are more challenging to transfuse.
People with aplastic anemia can receive blood transfusions for many years, but some complications can develop from this treatment.