Aplastic Anemia Treatment in Cumberland, MD
What Is Aplastic Anemia?
Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue located inside various bones in the body which produces stem cells. These stem cells develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets which carry out important functions in the body, including carrying oxygen to the body tissue, fighting infection, and helping to clot blood. When damage to the bone marrow occurs, it is unable to produce new stem cells—a condition referred to as aplastic anemia or bone marrow aplasia.
Aplastic anemia is considered a rare but serious medical condition. Its severity ranges from mild and moderate cases to severe, life-threatening medical emergencies. Prompt treatment is necessary to avoid serious complications and may include medication, blood transfusion, or bone marrow transplant.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Cumberland who specializes in aplastic anemia treatment, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Dr. Martin Gallagher online.
Aplastic Anemia Causes
There are several factors which can damage the bone marrow and cause aplastic anemia, including:
- Radiation and chemotherapy
- Certain medications
- Autoimmune disease
- Exposure to certain toxins
- Viral infection
- Certain genetic factors.
However, in many instances, the cause of bone marrow aplasia is unknown; this occurs in approximately 75 percent of aplastic anemia cases.
Aplastic Anemia Symptoms
Symptoms of aplastic anemia often vary person to person; they may develop suddenly or develop gradually over the course of several weeks or months. Symptoms are also dependent upon which blood cells are low; low red blood cells, low white blood cells, and low platelets all cause unique symptoms.
The most frequently experienced aplastic anemia symptoms include:
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Frequent infections
- Frequent bruising or bleeding
Diagnosing Aplastic Anemia
In order to arrive at an aplastic anemia diagnosis, your healthcare provider will conduct a thorough physical examination and review your medical history. There are several tests which can assist in diagnosing aplastic anemia and determining its severity and/or cause. These tests include:
- A complete blood count (CBC), which measures the levels of each blood cell type in your blood
- A reticulocyte count, which measures the levels of young red blood cells
- A bone marrow test in which your healthcare provider draws bone marrow aspirate and examines it under a microscope
These tests can also help rule out other conditions such as myelodysplastic syndrome—a condition in which the bone marrow produces blood cells, but the cells are deformed or underdeveloped—or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria—a rare blood disorder that destroys red blood cells.
How to Treat Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia treatment is dependent on the severity of your condition; however, all treatment options focus on increasing healthy new blood cell production. People with mild to moderate aplastic anemia may not require treatment as long as the condition is monitored continually and does not worsen.
For those with more severe aplastic anemia, medical treatment can prevent complications and alleviate symptoms.
A blood transfusion is a common procedure for those with aplastic anemia because it provides you with the blood cells that your bone marrow is unable to produce. While not a cure for the condition, a blood transfusion is a safe way to help alleviate aplastic anemia symptoms due to low blood counts.
There are several different types of medications your healthcare provider may prescribe if you are diagnosed with aplastic anemia:
- Immunosuppressants are often used when aplastic anemia is driven by an autoimmune disease to prevent the immune system from attacking the bone marrow.
- Antibiotics are leveraged when white blood cell counts are low, and infections occur frequently.
- Bone marrow stimulant drugs can be utilized to help produce new blood cells.
Bone Marrow Transplant
A bone marrow transplant, also referred to as a stem cell transplant, is typically required in those with severe aplastic anemia or cases of aplastic anemia that do not respond to other forms of treatment. A bone marrow transplant replaces your stem cells with healthy donor cells to restore bone marrow function.
If you experience signs of aplastic anemia, it is imperative to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional. Untreated severe bone marrow aplasia can result in fatal health consequences.
To schedule an appointment with a healthcare practitioner in Cumberland who can diagnose and treat aplastic anemia, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Dr. Martin Gallagher online.
Medical Wellness Associates
Jeannette, PA 15644
8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm