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Aplastic Anemia

Idiopathic aplastic anemia is a condition where your bone marrow stops making new blood cells. This condition is not that uncommon and can be fatal if left untreated.

Aplastic anemia caused by damage to the bone marrow which occurs due to viruses, some drugs, and radiation exposure. Some scientists think that this may be an autoimmune condition. In autoimmune diseases, the body attacks its cells like an infection. Many times cause cannot be ascertained, and thus it is labeled as Idiopathic Aplastic Anemia.

Stem cells in the marrow usually make blood cells including:

  • RBCs
  • White blood cells (WBCs)
  • Platelets

In people with aplastic anemia, this process is disrupted. Stem cells are damaged, and few blood cells are made.

Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia

The symptoms of this condition are similar to those of general anemia. When your RBC count is low, you may experience:

  • dizziness
  • excessive fatigue
  • sensitivity to cold temperatures
  • weakness
  • rapid heart rate
  • irritability
  • paleness
  • shortness of breath

Low platelet counts can cause

  • nose bleeds
  • bleeding in the gums
  • the skin to bruise easily
  • rash with small pinpoints

The effects of idiopathic aplastic anemia on WBC levels are not easy to detect. However, with fewer WBCs, you will be more susceptible to infections.

Diagnosing Idiopathic Aplastic Anemia

All types of anemia firstly diagnosed with a blood test. A complete blood count (CBC) will show if you have low levels of RBCs, WBCs, and platelets.

After diagnosing anemia once, it becomes easy to determine its cause. Once your doctor finds that you have aplastic anemia, then you may need a bone marrow biopsy. In order to collect the marrow, a needle inserted into your hip bone. The sample examined to see how many stem cells present.

Treatment Options for Aplastic Anemia

Mild cases can be treated with immunosuppressive agents (Cyclosporine CSA or Anti-Thymocyte Globulin ATG).

Bone Marrow Transplant

For moderate to severe cases, if an HLA-matched donor found, then bone marrow transplant considered as the first option. If no matched donor is available, then immunosuppressive therapy (ATG + CSA) can be tried.

In cases of failed ATG therapy and no matched donor available, the doctors then opt for unrelated donor/half-matched donor BMT.

The key to success in aplastic anemia is early diagnosis and early treatment.

Aplastic Anemia Prevention

There is no known way to prevent idiopathic aplastic anemia. Unlike other forms of anemia, the intake of iron supplements could not prevent this disease.

Pay attention to your body. Talk to your doctor if you develop anemia symptoms. Prompt treatment can help keep you feeling well.