Aplastic anaemia is a blood-related disorder that occurs only in seldom instances and gives rise to noticeable signs of excessive tiredness, continuous bleeding and breathing distress. It happens when the body ceases to synthesize new blood cells, which hampers the internal defence mechanism and makes the affected individual more prone to acquiring infections.
A very grave illness that can prompt serious indications of massive loss of blood and even prove to be fatal, aplastic anaemia, much like anaemia triggered by low haemoglobin levels in the blood, can affect both men and women of all age groups.
Since the symptoms and severity of aplastic anaemia can vary from person to person and the disease can deteriorate crucial bodily functions, it is essential to understand the causes and typical signs of this illness, to ensure timely medical treatment and optimal recovery of the affected individual.
Aplastic anaemia mostly arises when the immune cells in the body recognize its stem cells as foreign invaders and begin to attack the same, similar to autoimmune disease. Stem cells situated in the bone marrow are responsible for the production of new and healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Some instances which injure stem cells and lead to a faulty immune system include:
Having undergone radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer
Being directly exposed to poisonous chemical substances at home or work, like pesticides, asbestos etc.
Viral diseases like Epstein-Barr, hepatitis or HIV.
Aplastic anaemia sometimes does not trigger any symptoms in the affected person. In other cases, however, obvious signs are exhibited in this blood-linked sickness, such as:
Severe levels of fatigue
Dizziness and vertigo
Abnormal heart rate or arrhythmia
Delayed wound healing even in small injuries
Bleeding from the nose and gums
Redness and rashes on the skin
The doctor initially examines all external signs demonstrated by the patient. Then certain tests are conducted, to determine if aplastic anaemia could be the reason for the discomforting symptoms reported by the affected individual.
Firstly, a complete blood profile is performed, by collecting a sample of the patient’s blood. It is then analyses for the concentration of the three blood types – red, white and platelets. In people with aplastic anaemia, all three values will be significantly lower than normal.
Furthermore, since aplastic anaemia damages the stem cells, a bone marrow biopsy is also taken. Utilizing a sharp and sterilized needle, the physician excises a bit of bone marrow from a big-sized bone such as the hip bone. Then this sample is studied under a microscope to look for aberrations in structure and number of stem cells. This assay confirms the instance of aplastic anaemia in the patient.
Treatment for aplastic anaemia is usually blood transfusions, to maintain healthy blood count and circulation in affected individuals. Stem cell transplant is also performed in younger people with aplastic anaemia, from matching donors who are usually close family, like siblings, since they have biologically similar healthy bone marrow tissues.In case a transplant procedure cannot be performed in the patient, then prescription immunosuppressant medicines are given by the healthcare provider, to alleviate the symptoms and enable the immune system to operate without any hindrance.