It’s In Your blood

Blood disorder

Your blood plays a critical role in your overall health and well-being. This detailed guide will help you identify blood disorders so you can get the right treatment if you need it.

Human blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets. Each of these components play a different role in ensuring that your body is working perfectly. Red blood cells, for instance, are responsible for transporting oxygen through your body while white blood cells defend your body against harmful substances. Unfortunately, there are times when one or more of these blood components do not function or develop well and this is when a blood disorder can develop.

There are several types of blood disorders. Some can be tackled with medication but there are those that can be deadly if the patient does not receive the right treatment.

Disorders of your…

Red blood cells

When oxygen enters through your breathing passageway and into your lungs, your body’s red blood cells are waiting in line to transport oxygen to all parts of your body. The hemoglobin in your blood is responsible for this. Once it has transported oxygen to your cells, it then transports carbon dioxide from your body’s cells and to your lungs to be exhaled. Red blood cell disorders are any medical condition which is linked to your red blood cells and here are some of them:

Anemia

What is it?

Anemia is a medical condition whereby your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen through your body. There are several possible causes of anemia but generally, it can be stem from heavy bleeding which leads to losing cells faster than it can be replaced. Anemia also happens when your body does not produce enough red blood cells. When this occurs, you will tend to feel weak and tired.

What are the signs of anemia?

Depending on the cause, an anemic person can experience shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet and headaches.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment options for anemia depend very much on the cause of the condition. For example, if you have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may prescribe iron supplements and ask you to speak to a dietitian about making certain changes to your diet. For patients with aplastic anemia on the other hand, which is caused by failure of bone marrow development, a blood transfusion may be needed.

Sickle Cell Disease

What is it?

Sickle cell disease is a red blood cell disorder which affects the hemoglobin in your blood. According to Kidshealth.org, this condition, which is hereditary, is more prevalent among people of African ancestry. Sickle cell disease is also classified as a form of anemia.

Generally, red blood cells are round in shape and look like discs that are flexible, allowing them to squeeze through even small blood vessels. However, for patients who have sickle cells, the blood cells are stiff and curved like a sickle (the farming tool). Hence, these blood cells may get stuck in small blood vessels; affecting blood flow and oxygen supply throughout your body.

What are the symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease?

The symptoms of sickle cell disease include anemia, swollen hands and feet, pain, problems with vision and delayed growth.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment for this blood disorder mainly revolves around managing its symptoms such as pain and preventing possible complications. According to the Mayo Clinic, a bone marrow transplant seems like the only potential cure. However, despite possibly curing the patient, this procedure does have its challenges such as finding a suitable donor. In some cases, sickle cell disease can lead to death.

White blood cells

Your white blood cells are known as leukocytes and these are cells which are part of your immune system. It plays an important role in defending your body against infectious diseases and foreign invaders. Here are some major blood disorders related to white blood cells:

Leukemia

What is it?

Leukemia is a form of cancer which can affect both children and adults. There are many types of leukemia but generally, what happens is that, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells which do not function well. The exact cause of leukemia has yet to be identified but what can be understood is that, these abnormal white blood cells grow and divide wildly. This then causes the bone marrow to be filled with abnormal cells instead of healthy blood cells.

What are the symptoms of leukemia?

The symptoms of leukemia depend very much on the type of leukemia. Generally, symptoms include a constant feeling of fatigue, recurrent nosebleeds, bone pain or tenderness and tiny red spots on the skin.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment options are related to the patient’s age and overall state of health. Common treatment options for leukemia include chemotherapy (a drug treatment used to kill leukemia cells) and radiation therapy which involves the use of high-energy beams targeted at precise points on your body).

Platelets

Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are responsible for coagulating your blood. When bleeding occurs and your blood vessels are damaged, platelets will bind the site of the damaged vessel to put an end to the bleeding, creating a blood clot. Here are the key blood disorders associated with platelets:

Thrombocytopenia

What is it?

This blood disorder is classified as a low platelet count. A healthy person has about 150,000 to 450,000 platelets for every microliter of circulating blood. A person with thrombocytopenia has a platelet count that is lower than normal. This condition can range from mild to severe and could be caused by an underlying condition such as leukemia or chemotherapy drugs. In some cases, such with the use of certain medications or bacterial infection in the blood, your body may also destroy or use up platelets more rapidly than it is being replenished. This will lead to thrombocytopenia.

What are the symptoms of thrombocytopenia?

The symptoms of this condition include easy or excessive bruising, prolonged bleeding from cuts, fatigue, bleeding from gums and nose and blood in your urine or stools.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment options are tied to the severity of this condition. They range from medications if it is caused by a condition related to your immune system to platelet or blood transfusion. If all other methods fail and the condition remains severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your spleen, which is responsible for the production and removal of blood cells in your body.

Plasma

Blood plasma is a component found in your blood as well. It is a light yellow liquid which makes up about 50 percent of your blood. Blood plasma has a variety of functions. It controls your blood pressure and supplies protein for immunity. Here is a common plasma-related blood disorder:

Hemophilia

What is it?

Hemophilia is an inherited blood disorder which causes abnormal bleeding. This occurs due to the lack of blood-clotting protein in your blood. Blood clots are created by platelet and plasma. Hence, this condition can occur when this blood-clotting component is deficient. There are three types of hemophilia which are A, B and C. Each type is classified according to the clotting factor that is deficient.

What are the symptoms?

Just like with many of the other blood disorders, symptoms are related to the severity of the condition. Generally, some of the symptoms include excessive bleeding from cuts, blood in your urine or stool and large or deep bruises. If you are a patient with hemophilia, you should also be aware of symptoms which indicate that you require emergency medical assistance. These include sudden pain and swelling in large joints, prolonged headaches, extreme fatigue or double vision.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment for hemophilia patients consists methods to stop the bleeding. However, this depends on the type of hemophilia you have. You may receive injections to stimulate the clotting factor and medications to prevent clots from breaking down. There is no cure for hemophilia but patients living with this disease are generally able to lead a normal life.

Blood disorders can range from mild to severe. If you have a family history of blood disorders, it is important to identify them. This is because, quite a number of blood disorders are genetically inherited. Speak to a doctor if you have any concerns.

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