Aplastic anemia is a health disorder that destroys stem cells in a patient’s bone marrow. The marrow of a human being is responsible for producing red blood cells(RBCs), white blood cells(WBCs), and platelets which are vital to human health.
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Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia –
- head ache
- pale color of skin
- breathing problems
Diagnosis of Aplastic Anemia –
The following are the tests that can help diagnose you for aplastic anemia-
- Blood Investigations- Generally, red blood cells, white blood cells & platelets level stay within certain ranges in a person. In the case of aplastic anemia all three of these blood cells levels are low.
- Bone marrow biopsy. A Specialist uses a needle to remove away a tiny sample of bone marrow from a large bone in human body, for example your hipbone. This sample is carefully examined under a microscope to rule out other blood related problems. In aplastic anemia, the bone marrow contains fewer blood cells than in a normal bone marrow. Confirming the diagnosis of aplastic anemia needs a bone marrow biopsy.
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Treatment of Aplastic Anemia
Treatments for a patient depends on severity of condition and the age, This might include observation, blood transfusions, medications and doing a bone marrow transplantation also called a stem cell transplantation. Severe aplastic anemia patients, whose blood cell counts are extremely low, life-threatening and requires immediate hospitalization.
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This option although is not a cure for aplastic anemia, blood transfusion can control the bleeding and relieve symptoms by the way of providing blood cells to your bone marrow which is not producing. A patient might receive:
- Red blood cells (RBCs).These raise red blood cells counts and help in relieving anemia and fatigue.
- These also help prevent excessive bleeding in a patient.
While there is usually no limit to the number of blood transfusions one can have, complications can sometimes come into picture with multiple transfusions. Transfused red blood cells(RBCs) contain iron that can get stored in the body and can damage organs if an iron overload is not treated on the right time. Medicines can help get rid of this excess iron in the body.
Over the time your body can develop antibodies to transfused blood cell, making this process of transfusion less effective at relieving symptoms. The use of immunosuppressant, (the medications to suppress immune system) medication makes this complication/problems less likely.
Stem cell transplant, please read this for info on aplastic anemia treatment cost in India.
A stem cell transplant/Bone marrow transplant is to rebuild/restructure the bone marrow with stem cells from a donor(HLA Matched) might be the ONLY successful treatment option for patients with severe aplastic anemia. A Bone marrow transplant also called as stem cell transplant is generally the treatment for people who are young and have a HLA matching donor — most often a sibling. (To get more info. about Aplastic Anemia treatment on HLA Matched Donor, Please reach us directly at +91 9818857545 (Call/WhatsApp/Telegram)
If a donor is found, the diseased bone marrow is first depleted with Chemo or Radiation. Healthy stem cells from the donor (Matched) are filtered from his blood. The healthy stem cells are later injected intravenously into the patient’s bloodstream, where they slowly migrate to the bone marrow cavities and start forming new blood cells.
The procedure requires a lengthy hospital stay which ranges from 25 to 35 days. After the transplant, patient will receive medications to help prevent rejection of these donated stem cells. Patient needs continuous follow up even after discharge from the hospital to keep a close watch on the counts.
Stem cell transplant carries risks. which are explained well to the family before the process begins at the hospital. Post transplant the body may also reject the transplant which may lead to life-threatening complications. In addition, not everyone is a candidate for stem cell transplantation or can find a suitable donor.
For people who can not undergo a stem cell transplant or for those patients whose aplastic anemia is due to an autoimmune disorder, treatment can include drugs that alter/suppress the immune system (immuno-suppressants).
Drugs such as cyclosporine and anti-thymocyte globulin suppress/alter the activities of immune cells that are damaging patients bone marrow. This helps your bone marrow to recover and generate/produce new blood cells. Cyclosporine & anti-thymocyte globulin are mostly used together.
Corticosteroids such as methyl-prednisolone are used with these drugs often.
Although they are effective, these drugs further weaken immune system. It is also possible for anemia to return after these medications are stopped.
Bone marrow stimulants
Certain medications which include colony-stimulating factors help stimulate the bone marrow of the patient to generate new blood cells. The Growth factors are used with the immune suppressing medications.
Having aplastic anemia results in weakening of your immune system, which leaves a person more prone to any time of infection .If you have severe aplastic anemia, your specialist might give you antibiotics or antiviral drugs to help prevent the infections.
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