What Is Aplastic Anemia?
Aplastic anemia occurs when the bone marrow produces too few of all three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A reduced number of red blood cells causes hemoglobin to drop. A reduced number of white blood cells makes the patient susceptible to infection. A reduced number of platelets causes the blood not to clot the way it should.
What Are the Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia?
The following are the most common symptoms of aplastic anemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue)
- Abnormal paleness or lack of color of the skin
- Blood in stool
- Bleeding gums
- Sinus tenderness
- Enlarged liver or spleen
- Oral thrush—white patches on a red, moist, swollen surface, occurring anywhere in the mouth
The symptoms of aplastic anemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Diagnosing Aplastic Anemia
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for aplastic anemia may include:
- Blood tests, including blood chemistries, evaluation of liver and kidney functions, and genetic studies
- Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy: A procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.