Aplastic anemia is a type of bone marrow and, consequently, blood disorder, characterized by a decrease in the amount of red blood cells, leukocytes and circulating platelets, characterizing pancytopenia. This situation can be present from birth or acquired over time, and may be due to the use of some medications or frequent contact with chemical substances, for example.
Due to the fact that the bone marrow is unable to produce functioning blood cells and in adequate amounts, signs, and symptoms of this type of anemia begin to appear, such as pallor, excessive tiredness, frequent infections and the appearance of purple spots on the skin without an apparent cause.
Symptoms of aplastic anemia
The symptoms and signs of aplastic anemia arise due to the decrease in the amount of circulating blood cells, the main ones being:
- Pallor in the skin and mucous membranes;
- Several cases of infections a year;
- Purple marks on the skin for no apparent reason;
- Large hemorrhages even in small cuts;
- Lack of air;
- Hemorrhage in the gums;
- Rash on the skin.
In addition, in some cases there may also be changes in the kidneys and urinary tract, these changes being more frequent in the case of Fanconi anemia, which is a type of congenital aplastic anemia. Learn more about Fanconi’s anemia.
How the diagnosis is made
The diagnosis of aplastic anemia is made based on the analysis of laboratory tests, mainly the blood count, which indicates less than recommended amounts of red blood cells, leukocytes and platelets.
To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor usually requests to perform the myelogram, which aims to assess how the cell production is doing by the bone marrow, in addition to performing bone marrow biopsy. Understand what the bone marrow biopsy is for and how it is done.
In some cases, especially when it is found that aplastic anemia is congenital, the doctor may request imaging tests to evaluate the urinary tract and kidneys, in addition to laboratory tests that evaluate this system, such as urea and creatinine, for example. .
The change in bone marrow that leads to aplastic anemia can be congenital or acquired. In congenital aplastic anemia, the child is born with this alteration, developing symptoms in the first years of life.
On the other hand, acquired aplastic anemia develops over time, and may be related to the use of medications, as a result of autoimmune diseases or viral infections, or be due to frequent exposure to some toxic substances, the main ones being bismuth , pesticides, insecticides, chloramphenicol, gold salts and petroleum products.
Treatment for aplastic anemia
Treatment for aplastic anemia aims to relieve symptoms and stimulate the bone marrow to produce enough blood cells that are able to perform their functions.
Thus, blood transfusions can be recommended, because due to the fact that red blood cells and platelets are being transfused, mainly, it is possible to relieve symptoms, since there will be a greater amount of oxygen being transported by the cells. In addition, the use of antibiotics in the vein helps to strengthen the immune system, helping to fight infections.
The use of medications that help stimulate bone marrow activity and immunosuppressive medications, such as methylprednisolone, cyclosporine and prednisone, may also be indicated.
Despite these treatments, the only one that is effective for curing aplastic anemia is bone marrow transplantation, in which the person acquires a bone marrow that works perfectly, promoting the formation of blood cells in ideal amounts. Understand what bone marrow transplantation is and how it works.