One rare but important type of anemia is aplastic anemia. It is a condition where the bone marrow, spongy tissue inside your bones, becomes unable to produce new blood cells as a result of damaged stem cells.
In some cases, the bone marrow stops making only one type of blood cell. However, there can also be the possibility of it stopping to make all three blood cells: RBCs, WBCs, and platelets.
This condition can be developed slowly or come suddenly as well. It can get threatening if your blood count becomes low at an alarming level.
Who’s At Risk?
Anyone can suffer from aplastic anemia; however, it is more common in people in their early 20s and late teens. Elderly people are also at risk of getting aplastic anemia.
Apart from that, aplastic anemia is also common in people living in developing or under-developed countries.
Types of Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia can be of the following two types:
- Acquired aplastic anemia
- Inherited aplastic anemia
As the name suggests, inherited anemia is caused by a defect in the genes. Children and young adults have greater chances of developing inherited aplastic anemia. People suffering from aplastic anemia also have a high chance of getting leukemia and some other types of cancer.
Like macrocytic anemia, aplastic anemia is also caused as a result of some external factors, including:
- Viruses like Epstein-Barr or HIV
- Certain medications
- Chemotherapy or radiation for treating cancer
- Toxic chemicals
Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia
The symptoms of aplastic anemia depend on the type of blood cells you are running low on. However, some common symptoms of aplastic anemia are:
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
How is Aplastic Anemia Treated?
Aplastic anemia can be treated easily if the doctor is able to figure out the main cause of it. However, identifying the cause of this condition is not an easy thing to do.
If your condition isn’t serious, you might not need medical help unless or until your blood level decreases below a particular level. If the blood count does drop; your doctor will prescribe you drugs or hormones to help the bone marrow produce more blood cells.
Moreover, some doctors also suggest anti-fungal medication and antibiotics help deal with the infection in case of low WBCs. Just like in the case of normocytic anemia, some individuals also need to get a blood transfusion.
In severe cases, doctors also suggest the patients get stem cell or bone marrow transplants done. If a patient doesn’t want to get a transplant done, the doctor can also suggest them to take medication that’ll prevent their body from attacking the bone marrow.
What to Do If You Have Aplastic Anemia?
You can take the following measures if you have aplastic anemia:
- Don’t play such sports that can cause bleeding and injuries
- Wash your hands frequently
- Get an annual flu shot
- Avoid going to crowded places
- Always check with your doctor before traveling