Ever wondered what would happen if vital blood components like white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs) and platelets were deficient in your body?
Not only would you would be prone to severe infections due to the low WBC (the infection fighting cells in the body), severe bleeding due to a low platelet count (type of cells that help blood clot and protects from bleeding), you could also be prone to chronic fatigue and complications related to progressive anaemia (low RBC count / haemoglobin). Any of the three could be fatal.
“Aplastic anaemia is a condition with all of these dysfunctions combined in just one disease and presents with pancytopenia (reduction of three cell lines) on a health checkup. It can occur at any age, though it is more common when young,” says Dr Punit L Jain MD, DM (hematology) at Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore.
The symptoms may vary based on the severity of the disease. The low platelets can manifest with just persistent gum or nasal bleeding, easy bruising, or an uncontrolled bleeding in stools or urine or even heavy bleeding during menstrual periods.
The low WBC count may cause severe infections, which may cause high-grade fever. Other symptoms of low haemoglobin are: extreme tiredness or just plain long-term fatigue, dizziness, breathlessness on exertion or even while resting.
It is this heterogeneity in this disease that makes it imperative to understand and identify such rare disorders as early as possible, so that they can be cured.
The exact incidence of this disease in India is not known, but a recent report from AIIMS institute in Delhi suggested that nearly 20% to 40% of the referred patients with pancytopeniahave were later diagnosed with aplastic anaemia.
Aplastic anaemia is not cancer and if rightly identified and diagnosed, has a much higher rate of being cured than many cancers.
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