Aplastic anemia is a health condition where the body's bone marrow doesn't make adequate amount of new blood cells. Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue in the center of bones. It produces stem cells that grow into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Factors responsible for aplastic anemia
People suffering from aplastic anemia have low counts of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This happens because of damaged bone marrow's stem cells. Aplastic anemia is also referred to as bone marrow failure.
Slew of factors are responsible for damaged stem cells. These factors can be inherited or acquired.
Signs and symptoms of aplastic anemia
Inadequate red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets cause most of the signs and symptoms of aplastic anemia. The condition may be slow to progress or may come on suddenly. Aplastic anemia symptoms may include:
Aplastic anemia occurs when there is damage in bone marrow which results in slowing or shutting down the production of new blood cells. Factors responsible for temporarily or permanently injure bone marrow and affect blood cell production include:
Tests and diagnosis for Aplastic anemia
- Radiation and chemotherapy treatments kill cancer cells but can also destroy healthy cells including stem cells in bone marrow. Aplastic anemia is one of the side effects of these treatments.
- Exposure to some toxic chemicals, ones that are used in pesticides and insecticides may cause aplastic anemia. Exposure to benzene has been found responsible for aplastic anemia. However, it can improve if you limit your exposure to the chemicals.
- Some medications, one used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can cause aplastic anemia.
- An autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells may involve stem cells in your bone marrow.
- Certain viral infections such as hepatitis, parvovirus B19, HIV are linked with the development of aplastic anemia in some people.
- Aplastic anemia can also occur if you are pregnant because your immune system may attack your bone marrow during pregnancy.
To detect aplastic anemia, your doctor may suggest:
Treatment for Aplastic anemia
- Blood tests: In normal cases, levels of red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet stay in a certain range. Your doctor may suspect aplastic anemia when these levels decline abruptly.
- Bone marrow biopsy: To test for aplastic anemia, you will need to undergo a bone marrow biopsy. The procedure involves taking a sample of bone marrow from a large bone in your body using a needle. It is then examined under a microscope to rule out the possibility of other blood-related diseases.
The objective of treating aplastic anemia is to prevent or limit complications, relieve symptoms, and improve quality of life.
- Blood transfusions: Blood transfusions are known to controlling bleeding and relieve anemia symptoms, but they are not a complete cure for aplastic anemia. Instead they alleviate signs and symptoms by providing blood cells that your bone marrow isn't making. A transfusion may include transfusions of red blood cells and transfusions of platelets.
- Stem cell transplant: In the process of stem cell transplant, rebuilding of the bone marrow with stem cells from a donor takes place. It is the only successful treatment option for people with severe aplastic anemia. A stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant) is usually the choice of younger patients who have a matching donor.
- Medicines to suppress the immune system: For patients who cannot undergo a bone marrow transplant treatment may involve drugs that suppress the immune system. Some of the examples include cyclosporine and anti-thymocyte globulin. These drugs effectively manage to suppress the activity of immune cells that are damaging your bone marrow which helps in its recovery and generation of new blood cells.
In order to cope up with the disease, you need proper nutrition and sleep, which are critical for blood optimization.