What Is Aplastic Anemia?

Aplastic anemia can occur gradually in weeks and months. This condition can also appear suddenly. If aplastic anemia occurs in someone with very low blood levels, this condition can be fatal and life-threatening.

Based on the cause, aplastic anemia is divided into two types, namely:
  • Aplastic anemia of heredity. This condition is caused by genetic disorders are more prevalent in children and adolescents. Patients with this disease are also at risk of other diseases, such as leukemia .
  • Aplastic anemia is not hereditary. This condition often occurs in adults because the immune system is disturbed. The disorder may be caused by radiation or chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer, chemical toxicity, HIV or Epstein-Barr virus, or due to the influence of certain medications.

Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia
The symptoms of aplastic anemia depend on the type of blood cells that are low levels. If the red blood cells are low, one will have difficulty breathing, fatigue, dizziness, headache, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and pale face.

If the white blood cells are low, a person will be susceptible to infection and fever. If the platelets are below normal limits, one will be susceptible to bleeding, bruises, skin rashes, nosebleeds, and bleeding gums.

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Causes of Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia occurs due to damage to the bone marrow, which causes the production of blood cells to slow down or decrease. This damage is very dangerous because the bone marrow plays a major role in producing stem cells (stem cells) that produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

There are several factors that can cause bone marrow damage, among others:
  • Autoimmune disorders. This disorder causes the immune system to attack healthy cells, including stem cells that are in the bone marrow.
  • Radiation and chemotherapy. These two types of treatment aim to kill cancer cells. But sometimes this treatment also damages healthy cells.
  • Virus infection. Aplastic anemia can occur due to the influence of several types of viruses, such as hepatitis, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus , parvovirus B19, and HIV.
  • Use of certain drugs. Aplastic anemia can be affected by several types of antibiotics and drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis .
  • Exposure to chemical toxins. Exposure to toxic chemicals that are often used in pesticides and insecticides can lead to aplastic anemia, especially if the exposure persists.
  • Pregnancy. In pregnant women, aplastic anemia can arise due to the influence of autoimmune disorders, in which the immune system in the body will attack bone sumsung during pregnancy.

Diagnosis of Aplastic Anemia
The doctor will diagnose aplastic anemia through physical examination, symptoms experienced, and review of family health history of the patient. In addition, the doctor will perform blood tests and bone marrow biopsy.

Here's the explanation:
  • Blood test. Under normal conditions, the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and thrombis are at some point. A person is suspected of having aplastic anemia if one or both of these blood cells are below normal limits.
  • Bone marrow biopsy. At this stage, the doctor will take a sample of bone marrow from the pelvis to be examined with a microscope. Bone marrow sufferers of aplastic anemia contain only a small amount of blood cells.

Treatment of Aplastic Anemia
The type of treatment of aplastic anemia depends on the patient's condition and the severity. Here are the types of treatment for aplastic anemia:
  • Antibiotic drugs. Patients with aplastic anemia often struggle against bacteria or viruses because of low white blood cell levels. In addition, aplastic anemia makes one's immune system very weak. Antibiotic medications are necessary to prevent or overcome the infection so that the infection does not get worse.
  • Blood transfusion. This method is used to control bleeding, reduce the symptoms that arise, and supply blood cells that can not be produced bone marrow, so that blood cell levels back to normal. This treatment risks causing increased levels of iron in the blood and can interfere with the function of several organs of the body.
  • Stem cell transplantation. In this method, the doctor will transplant healthy stem cells from donors to administer to aplastic anemia patients through an IV. However, this treatment does not always work smoothly. In some cases, the patient's body rejects stem cells that are grafted from the donor. If left unchecked, this condition can cause dangerous complications.
  • Immunosuppressants . This method aims to control the activity of immune systems that damage stem cells by using drugs, such as cyclosporine or corticosteroids. Generally, this method is performed if people with aplastic anemia can not be treated with stem cell transplant methods.
  • Bone marrow stimulants. In order for the bone marrow to re-produce new blood cells, doctors can provide stimulant drugs such as sargramostim, filgrastim, pegfilgrastim, and epoetin alpha . This method is often combined with immunosuppressants.

Prevention of Aplastic Amenia
Some of the steps below can be done to prevent the symptoms of aplastic anemia not getting worse:
  • Washing hands regularly, especially after outdoor activities.
  • Reduces strenuous exercise to reduce the risk of bleeding due to physical contact.
  • Get enough rest if necessary.
  • Avoid crowds of the general public so as not to easily catch the disease.

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