Blood cell disorders can affect any part of blood, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It can also cause problems to the liquid content of the blood known as plasma.
Different people experience different symptoms, but fatigue, unexplained weight loss, rapid breathing, and frequent infections are the most common symptoms.
Treatment options vary according to the type and severity of the condition.
What are blood cell disorders?
Blood cell disorders can affect the blood’s ability to function correctly. They can occur due to mutations in genes or passed down in families.
These disorders can impair any component of the blood. Blood has three main components.
Red blood cells: RBCs carry the oxygen and transport it to the various parts of our body, including tissues and organs.
White blood cells: WBCs are part of our body’s defense mechanism. They fight off the infection and strengthen the immune system of the body.
Platelets: These are involved in the formation of clots. It helps in the formation of clots after injury whenever our vessels get damaged at a certain site.
All these cells are formed in the bone marrow and perform different functions. A blood cell disorder can impair the functioning of any of these blood cells.
Symptoms of blood cell disorders
Symptoms of blood cell disorders depend upon the type of the disorder.
Common symptoms of red blood cell disorders include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trouble focusing
Symptoms of WBCs disorders include:
- Weight loss
Common symptoms of platelets disorder include:
- Poor healing
- Bleeding from gums and nose
- The inability of the skin to clot the blood after an injury
- Excessive bruising
Diagnosis of the disorder depends upon the symptom. Your doctor may perform several tests to diagnose blood cell disorders.
A CBC (complete blood count) test is ordered to see the amount of each type of cell in your blood.
A bone marrow biopsy is another test. It diagnoses the development of any abnormal cell formation in your bone marrow.
Your doctor will extract a small sample of bone marrow from your bones to do this test.
Red blood cell disorders
Red blood cells disorders can affect both children and adults. It impairs the oxygen-carrying capacity of RBCs. These cells carry the oxygen from the lungs to the other parts of the body.
The most common RBC disorders include:
Anemia is the most common type of red blood cell disorder. This disorder is caused when the iron is deficient in your blood. This iron is needed to produce hemoglobin – a protein that makes up the RBCs and increases its oxygen-carrying capacity.
You will show no symptoms in case of mild anemia. However, if you have a severe type of anemia, you may experience pale skin, fainting, and fatigue.
Anemia can occur in several ways like:
Iron deficiency anemia: Iron is extremely important for the body. Due to lack of iron, your RBCs cannot carry the oxygen and transfer it to the rest of the body.
Taking less iron-rich foods, and loss of blood during menstruation or ulcers are the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia. Taking iron supplements is good to cure this condition.
AHA (autoimmune hemolytic anemia): In this condition, your body loses its ability to replace enough amount of RBCs due to an overactive immune system.
It destroys more red blood cells than produces. As a result, you will have a low amount of RBCs.
Aplastic anemia: Aplastic anemia is rare, but it can occur at any stage of life. In this condition, your bone marrow stops producing enough red blood cells. It results in uncontrolled bleeding and fatigue.
Your body may also lose its ability to fight off several infections. Aplastic anemia can happen suddenly, or the condition may develop gradually.
Pernicious anemia: It is also called B12 deficiency. In this condition, your body cannot absorb enough amount of vitamin B12. It happens due to the weak lining of the stomach or due to an autoimmune response.
It results in low red blood cells count. This condition can be fatal. The ultimate and long-term way to treat this disorder is by taking vitamin B12 injections.
Sickle cell anemia: Sickle cell anemia is another most common type of red blood cell disorder. It gets its name from the sickle cell shape. The normal RBCs are disc-like.
Sometimes, due to genetic mutations, people with sickle cell anemia develop curved-shaped cells. These cells are unable to carry oxygen to your body parts and tissues.
The irregular shape of these cells can also block the passage of blood flow resulting in organ damage and severe pain.
Sometimes, genetic mutations caused a condition called polycythemia vera. It is a type of blood cancer that results in the formation of more RBCs.
Excessive production thickens the blood. It moves slowly and causes blood clots. As a result, there is blockage, heart attacks, and strokes.
This condition is treated by phlebotomy. Other treatment options include medications and the removal of blood from veins.
Thalassemia is a blood cell disorder that occurs after some genetic mutation. Thalassemia usually occurs in people of the Mediterranean region.
This disorder prevents the normal production of hemoglobin. RBCs having less hemoglobin do not perform well. They are unable to carry oxygen to all parts of the body properly.
This disorder can result in bone deformities, heart problems, and delayed growth in children.
White blood cell disorders
White blood cells are part of the immune system. They fight off foreign invaders and infectious particles. As a result, they prevent infections. White blood cell disorders affect the body’s ability to fight off infections.
These disorders can occur both in adults and children.
Leukemia is the most common type of white blood cell disorder. It can be acute or chronic. Leukemia is a type of blood cancer in which malignant white blood cells begin to multiply within the bone marrow.
Chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation is used to treat leukemia.
Lymphoma is a kind of blood cancer in which white blood cells become malignant and begin to grow abnormally within the body. It develops in the lymph system that is why called lymphoma.
Two major types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Chemotherapy and radiation are used to treat this condition.
MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome)
MDS affects the white blood cells in the bone marrow. Too many immature cells are produced. These cells are called blasts which replaced the healthy and mature cells. MDS can develop quickly or gradually, leading to leukemia.
Blood transfusion and chemotherapy can be used to treat this condition.
Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, play a major role in controlling the flow of blood when you have a cut, injury, or wound. They gather at the site of injury and block the flow of blood by clotting it.
If your platelets are not working properly, you may have any of these platelets disorders:
Thrombocytopenia: Many factors contribute to this condition. It occurs due to a low number of platelets in the blood. Low platelets result in bleeding and do not heal the wounds quickly. It can be fatal because even a small injury can result in excessive loss of blood.
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura: It can also arise as a result of a low platelet count in the blood. It usually does not show any symptoms. Sometimes, red spots on the skin develop, and abnormal bleeding can occur.
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia: Heparin is the most common anticoagulant. It is prescribed to different individuals as a blood thinner. Sometimes, a reaction against heparin results in low platelet count and causes this condition.
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: It is a rare disorder that results in the formation of blood clots in the body. It may block the vessels and cause heart attacks and strokes.
Essential thrombocytosis: This occurs when the bone marrow produces too many platelets. It results in the formation of clots throughout the body. This condition is very dangerous as it can put you at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. Essential thrombocytosis is also known as primary thrombocytosis.
Hemophilia is the most common inherited blood clotting disorder. Hemophilia impairs the ability of the body to clot the blood. To stop the bleeding: clotting is required. Males are more likely than females to suffer from it. Bleeding can occur both inside and outside the body.
Acquired platelet function disorders
This is another condition in which platelets do not function properly. This condition is usually suspected when prolonged bleeding is observed. It is not an inherited trait.
Different drugs contribute to reducing the platelet’s ability to function correctly, like aspirin, blood thinners, anesthetics, and some antibiotics.
Blood plasma disorders
Many disorders affect the blood plasma that makes up the major part of our blood. The most common type of blood plasma disorder include:
It is a rare condition that results in the formation of abnormal cancerous cells in the bone marrow. These cells accumulate and turn into tumors.
It usually occurs in the bone marrow of the spine, ribs, and hips. The causes of myelomas are still unknown.
The malignant plasma cells result in the formation of abnormal proteins that block and overly crowd the bone marrow. This condition may lead to thick blood that flows slowly and kidney damage.
Treatment for blood cell disorders
Treatment options vary according to age, health status, and type of blood cell disorder. Doctors frequently prescribe a combination of different treatments to handle these disorders.
Medication: Various medications are used by doctors to treat blood cell disorders. Anemia is treated with iron and vitamin supplements.
Antibiotics are used to treat white blood cell disorders. These antibiotics fight off infections.
Similarly, different types of medications are prescribed to increase the platelets count of the blood.
Surgery: Surgery is used to replace damaged bone marrow cells.
Bone marrow transplant involves the transfer of healthy stem cells from a healthy person to a patient’s body. For that, the genetic profile of the donor must be close enough to the patient.
Blood transfusion is another treatment option. It involves the replacement of damaged blood cells. For this process: you need the infusion from a healthy person whose blood profile is similar to yours.
Other options: In the case of blood cancers, doctors usually treat the patients with chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, drug therapy, or stem cell transplantation.
Blood cell disorder can affect any part of your blood. If you are experiencing some problems, you must consult your doctor.
Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to avoid the disorders. If you have a family history of blood cell disorders, you must consult your doctor from time to time.
Treatment varies according to the health and age of a person. Talk to your doctor and get the best possible treatment to live a healthy life.