Aplastic Anemia or Bone Marrow Failure

General or Other | Hematology | Aplastic Anemia or Bone Marrow Failure (Disease)


Aplastic anemia is a type of anemia caused by failure of the bone marrow to generate new blood cells of all types. The condition, as the name indicates, involves both aplasia and anemia.

Signs and symptoms may include: fatigue, shortness of breath with exertion, rapid or irregular heart rate, pale skin, frequent or prolonged infections, unexplained or easy bruising, nosebleeds and bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding from cuts, skin rash, dizziness and headache.

Causes and Risk factors

Aplastic anemia may occur suddenly, or it can occur slowly and get worse over a long period of time. Aplastic anemia develops when damage occurs to your bone marrow, slowing or shutting down the production of new blood cells. Factors that can temporarily or permanently injure bone marrow and affect blood cell production include: radiation and chemotherapy treatments, exposure to toxic chemicals such as benzene, use of certain drugs such as those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and some antibiotics, autoimmune disorders, a viral infection like hepatitis, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus B19 and HIV, and pregnancy.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In many cases, doctors arent able to identify the cause of aplastic anemia. This is called idiopathic aplastic anemia. To diagnose aplastic anemia, recommend are: blood tests and bone marrow biopsy.

Treatment of the underlying cause may allow the bone marrow to recover. Immunosuppressant drugs or corticosteroids may be used to treat autoimmune disorders. During recovery, blood transfusions and antibiotics may be needed to prevent or treat infection. If these treatments are ineffective, you may be offered a stem cell transplant. ...

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