Aplasia basically refers to the dysfunction of tissues, where the inability of the bone marrow to produce blood cells leads to the breakdown of cell growth. Normally, the bone marrow produces three types of blood cells:
- Red blood cells
- Certain types of white blood cells
Each of these plays a part in body functions; for instance, platelets are used in blood clotting, white blood cells make up the immune system and red blood cells are used to carry oxygen to all body parts. All these cells mature from stem cells, or just simple cells that over time develop into adult blood cells.
How do I know I have the disorder?
The majority of people living with aplastic anemia do not even know how they acquired it. In a few cases, the condition is congenital, as is the case with Fanconi’s Syndrome, but only about 1000 people in total, have ever been diagnosed with fanconi. Patients with Fanconi syndrome are distinguished by a relatively short stature, bone abnormalities, especially in the arms, kidney problems and skin pigmentation.
Their chromosomes also show an abnormality where random breaks appear in the pattern, and such individual often have an elfin-like appearance. A lot of people with aplastic anemia are successfully treated and are able to go back to their normal activities, but it is advised to get ongoing medical checkups to keep the disorder in check.
Exposure to toxins or certain drugs can cause aplasmic anemia. Benzin is a toxin that has been linked to the disorder so avoid products that contain it. Organic chemicals such as the following should also be avoided:
- Toluene (in glues)
- DDT and Lindane
- Petroleum distillates
It is possible to cure it
It takes several treatments to see positive results. Different patients exhibit different complications with the treatment so each case is unique. Due to the low white blood cell count in the blood, it is easy for patients to get infections, which can cause serious problems so ask your doctor how you can stay protected.
Take precautions just to be safe.
- One of the ways to keep from getting sick is to avoid large crowds of people and public utilities.
- Uncooked food may also contain bacteria that would be practically harmless to someone with regular immunity but can cause problems for you.
- Make an extra effort to maintain dental hygiene by brushing, using mouthwash and flossing to reduce the risk of infection.
- Ensure you get a flu and pneumonia vaccine every year.
- Wash your hands more often.
When infections occur, the symptoms may include fever, so watch out for that and call your doctor immediately if you suspect infection.
Try to exercise
In order to maintain some level of fitness, regular exercise may be necessary, but talk it over with your doctor to determine the kind of exercises your body can handle safely. You must definitely avoid physical contact sports because they often result in injury. Also, sports that can cause shortness of breath or chest pain should be avoided. Try to keep your playing intensity moderate so you do not get too weak.
Family and support
Getting through each day will require strength, determination and a lot of support. It is found that the most important support team is the family so keep them close for emotional support. Family can also help in other ways, such as gathering more information about the condition, and if counseling is available and you are comfortable with it, then you may benefit from talking with a professional.
There are also many patients living with aplastic anemia and if you can talk with them you might find it uplifting. Some support groups are known to offer financial support to patients because treatment can be very costly, so you or your family can look into that.
Donna Yates is a health writer and a former phlebotomist. Her site, PhlebotomyTrainingBook.com provides information to help people kickstart their phlebotomy career.