Aplastic anemia (AA) develops when the body fails to make appropriate number of new members cells. The condition makes you feel worn out, tired and at an extremely high risk of contracting infections and developing uncontrolled bleeding.
What is Aplastic Anemia?
It can develop at any age; may develop all of a sudden or insidiously and might worsen over a long interval of time.
When there is injury to the bone marrow, which slows or stops the synthesis of new blood cells, aplastic anemia establishes. The bone marrow is spongy, red compound present in the bones which manufactures stem cells, which generate other cells.
Stem cells in the bone marrow produce white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
Elements which could cause trauma to the bone marrow completely or for a short time include:
- Radiation and chemotherapy: Radio-chemotherapy helps exterminate cancer cells; on the other hand, they also hurt the healthy cells of the body, consisting of the stem cells in bone marrow. The condition might be a temporal side effect of these therapies.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals: Exposure to pesticides and insecticides, and benzene is known to cause aplastic anemia. It likewise improves on its own (don’t despair) if you keep away from repeated direct exposure to these chemicals.
- Particular drugs: Medications, particularly, to treat rheumatoid arthritis in addition to specific antibiotics, can cause AA.
- Auto-immune conditions: The body immune system attacks healthy cells, and these might be the stem cells of the bone marrow.
- Viral infection of the bone marrow might lead to aplastic anemia. Epstein-Barr, Hepatitis, Cyto-megalovirus, HIV and Parvovirus B19 prevail triggers.
- Pregnancy: AA might develop during pregnancy.
- Idiopathic: There might be no recognized cause for its development.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia?
Lower than regular numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets cause the majority of the symptoms and signs of AA.
Symptoms and signs of Low Blood Cell Counts
Red Blood Cells
The most common symptom of a low red cell count is tiredness (fatigue). An absence of hemoglobin in the blood causes fatigue. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells. It helps carry oxygen to the body.
A low red cell count also can cause shortness of breath; dizziness, particularly when standing; headaches; cold in your hands or feet; pale skin; and chest pain.
If you do not have enough hemoglobin-carrying red blood cells, your heart needs to work harder to move the reduced quantity of oxygen in your blood. This can result in arrhythmias (irregular heart beats), a heart whispering, an enlarged heart, and even heart failure.
White Blood Cells
White blood cells help fight infections. Signs and symptoms of a low white blood cell count include fevers, frequent infections that can be severe, and flu-like illnesses that stick around.
Platelets stick to seal small cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding. People who have low platelet counts tend to bruise and bleed quickly, and the bleeding may be hard to stop.
Typical types of bleeding connected with a low platelet count include nosebleeds, bleeding gums, pinpoint red spots on the skin, and blood in the stool. Women likewise may have heavy menstrual bleeding.
Other Signs and Symptoms
AA can cause signs and symptoms that aren’t directly related to low blood cell counts. Examples include nausea (sensation ill to your stomach) and skin rashes.
Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria
Some people who have aplastic anemia have a condition called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, or PNH. This is a red blood cell disorder. Many people who have PNH do not have any signs or symptoms.
If symptoms do take place, they might include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Swelling or pain in the abdomen or swelling in the legs caused by blood clots.
- Blood in the urine.
- Jaundice (a yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes).
In people who have aplastic anemia and PNH, either condition can establish first.
How is Aplastic Anemia Diagnosed?
Your doctor will identify AA based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results.
When your doctor knows the cause and intensity of the condition, he or she can create a treatment plan for you.
If your primary care doctor thinks you have AA, he or she might refer you to a hematologist. A hematologist is a doctor who focuses on treating blood illness and disorders.
Medical and Family Histories
Your doctor may ask questions about your case history, such as whether:
- You’ve had anemia or a condition that can cause anemia.
- You have shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, or other symptoms and signs of anemia.
- You’ve been exposed to specific toxins or medicines.
- You’ve had radiation or chemotherapy (treatments for cancer).
- You’ve had infections or signs of infections, such as fever.
- You bruise or bleed easily.
Your doctor likewise might ask whether any of your family members have had anemia or other blood disorders.
Your doctor will do a physical examination to check for signs of aplastic anemia. She or he will try to find out how severe the disorder is and what’s triggering it.
The exam may include checking for pale or yellow-colored skin and signs of bleeding or infection. Your doctor may listen to your heart and lungs for irregular heart beats and breathing noises. She or he also may feel your abdominal area to examine the size of your liver and feel your legs for swelling.
Lots of tests are used to identify AA. These tests help:
- Validate a diagnosis of AA, look for its cause, and discover how severe it is.
- Rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.
- Look for paroxysmal nighttime hemoglobinuria (PNH).
Complete Blood Count
Typically, the first test used to detect aplastic anemia is a total blood count (CBC). The CBC procedures many parts of your blood.
This test checks your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells. It brings oxygen to the body. Hematocrit is a measure of how much space red blood cells use up in your blood. A low level of hemoglobin or hematocrit suggests anemia.
The regular range of these levels differs in specific racial and ethnic populations. Your doctor can explain your test leads to you.
The CBC likewise examines the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your blood. Abnormal results might signify AA, an infection, or another condition.
Lastly, the CBC takes a look at mean corpuscular volume (MCV). MCV is a step of the average size of your red blood cells. The results might be an idea regarding the cause of your anemia.
A reticulocytecount determines the number of young red blood cells in your blood. The test reveals whether your bone marrow is making red blood cells at the appropriate rate. Individuals who have AA have low reticulocyte levels.
Bone Marrow Tests
Bone marrow tests show whether your bone marrow is healthy and making sufficient blood cells. The two bone marrow tests are aspiration and biopsy.
Bone marrow aspiration may be done to find out if and why your bone marrow isn’t really making sufficient blood cells. For this test, your doctor removes a small amount of bone marrow fluid through a needle. The sample is taken a look at under a microscope to look for defective cells.
A bone marrow biopsy might be done at the same time as a goal or later. For this test, your doctor gets rid of a small amount of bone marrow tissue through a needle.
The tissue is looked for the number and types of cells in the bone marrow. In AA, the bone marrow has a lower than normal number of all 3 types of blood cells.
Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to those of AA. Hence, other tests may be had to eliminate those conditions. These tests might include:
- X ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, or an ultrasound imaging test. These tests can show bigger lymph nodes in your abdomen. Enlarged lymph nodes may suggest blood cancer. Medical professionals likewise may use these tests to look at the kidneys and the bones in the arms and hands, which are sometimes unusual in young people who have Fanconi anemia. This type of anemia can cause AA.
- Chest x ray. This test produces images of the structures inside your chest, such as your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. A chest x ray may be used to rule out infections.
- Liver tests and viral studies. These tests are used to check for liver illness and infections.
- Tests that examine vitamin B12 and folate levels in the blood. These tests can help dismiss anemia caused by vitamin deficiency.
Your doctor likewise might suggest blood tests for PNH and to examine your immune system for proteins called antibodies. (Antibodies in the immune system that attack your bone marrow cells may cause AA.)
How to Prevent Anemia Naturally
Prevention is constantly better than a treatment, and preventing anemia is better than attempting to cure it. Here are a few of the methods you can aim to keep anemia and its results at bay:
- Avoiding anemia implies you need to have adequate red blood cells in your body. This can be finished with an appropriate diet, adequate sleep and workout to keep your body healthy and producing sufficient red blood cells to keep anemia away.
- Another method to stop anemia from occurring is to avoid the consumption of substances that will cause you to have anemia. Included in the list of substances you need to avoid to stop anemia from happening is alcohol ( don’t consume alcohol, alcohol is harmful for health) Another possible perpetrator that you might wish to avoid is caffeine.
- Having yourself examined routinely by a doctor will likewise help you avoid the start of anemia. When you find that you are investing a lot of late nights out or are not getting adequate iron in your diet, you might need to have your blood checked for signs of anemia to help you stop it in its early stages.
- When in a mishap or when you cut yourself and discover yourself bleeding exceedingly, have your injuries looked after instantly. Since excessive bleeding can cause intense anemia, caring for these injuries may help stop this from happening.
Avoiding Iron Deficiency
Absence of iron consumption is the main cause of anemia development. For anemia prevention consuming iron rich diet is utmost essential. Correct consumption of iron (dry fruits, beans and nuts), folate (cereals, beans, and fruits), vitamin C abundant foods. Be careful while taking in excess amount of iron.
Avoid Anemia during Pregnancy
Hemoglobin count reduces during pregnancy and there is a reduction in red blood cells. For prevention of anemia in pregnant women, intake of iron and vitamin C abundant foods is must. This can be obtained from red meats, dry fruits, green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.