Aplastic anemia is a disease in which the bone marrow is very poorly developed, and the result is a lack of blood cells in circulation.
The beginning of aplastic anemia is unnoticeable in most patients. The first symptoms are weakness and fatigue, which are caused by a decrease in red blood cells (erythrocytes). The lack of red blood cells causes reduced production in the bone marrow and bleeding from the nose, gums, vagina, digestive system, the subcutaneous tissue.
The patients usually have a very low amount of white blood cells that serve to protect the body, they are very pale and have bleeding gums. Fever is also a very common symptom but the typical signs of infection are often absent in the beginning. The course of the disease depends mainly on the severity of the disease. In cases of milder forms of this anemia the production of one or more types of blood cells can be easily normalized.
Although infections are the primary symptom of the disease, they are eventually becoming one of the most important factors of the disease. The lack of red blood cells and platelets are often treated with blood transfusions. These patients have an increased risk of having leukemia.
The diagnosis of aplastic anemia is based on:
• blood tests while observing the number of cells – bone marrow puncture
• Bone biopsy
• the concentration of iron and his carriers (transferrin) in the blood.
A team of medical experts and a highly specialized medical center is required for the treatment of this illness. There is a mild and a severe form of treatment for this illness, depending on how far the illness had gone. The mild one is by using androgen and the severe one is by bone marrow transplantation. The bone marrow transplantation usually leads to recovery.
Supporting measures are also important in all forms of the disease, and they include the removal of harmful factors from the environment of the patients, antibiotic treatment of infections in women and the use of contraceptives (anti – baby pills) to prevent heavy menstrual bleeding. When there is no requirement for bone marrow transplantation but the androgen therapy has no effect the illness is treated with immunosuppressants (cyclosporine A).