General Practice 2022

Aplástic anemia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Aplástic anemia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Aplástic anemia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Aplastic anemia is a type of alteration of the bone marrow and, consequently, of the blood, characterized by a decrease in the amount of circulating red blood cells, leukocytes and platelets, characterizing the condition of pancytopenia. This situation may be present from birth or acquired over time, and may be due to the use of certain medications or frequent contact with chemical substances, for example.

Due to the fact that the bone marrow cannot produce functioning blood cells in adequate amounts, signs and symptoms of this type of anemia begin to appear, such as pallor, excessive tiredness, frequent infections and the appearance of purple spots on the skin without apparent cause.

Symptoms of aplastic anemia

Symptoms and signs of aplastic anemia arise due to a decrease in the amount of circulating blood cells, the main ones being:

  • Pale in the skin and mucous membranes;
  • Several cases of infections per year;
  • Purple marks on the skin for no apparent reason;
  • Big bleeding even from small cuts;
  • Tiredness,
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Tachycardia;
  • Bleeding gum;
  • Dizziness;
  • Headache;
  • Skin rash.

In addition, in some cases there may also be changes in the kidneys and urinary tract, and these changes are more frequent in the case of Fanconi anemia, which is a type of congenital aplastic anemia. Learn more about Fanconi anemia.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of aplastic anemia is based on the analysis of laboratory tests, especially the blood count, which indicates lower than recommended amounts of red blood cells, leukocytes and platelets.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor usually asks for a myelogram, which aims to assess how the marrow is producing cells, and a bone marrow biopsy may also be recommended. Understand what a bone marrow biopsy is for and how it is performed.

In some cases, especially when it is verified that aplastic anemia is congenital, the doctor may request imaging tests to evaluate the urinary tract and kidneys, in addition to laboratory tests that evaluate this system, such as urea and creatinine, for example.

Main causes

The alteration in the bone marrow that leads to aplastic anemia can be congenital or acquired. In congenital aplastic anemia, the child is already born with this alteration, developing symptoms in the first years of life.

On the other hand, acquired aplastic anemia develops over time and may be related to the use of medications, as a consequence of autoimmune diseases or viral infections, or be due to frequent exposure to some toxic substances, the main ones being bismuth, pesticides, insecticides, chloramphenicol, gold s alts and petroleum products.

Treatment for aplastic anemia

Treatment for aplastic anemia aims to relieve symptoms and stimulate the bone marrow to produce enough blood cells to perform their functions.

Thus, blood transfusions can be recommended, which, due to the fact that red blood cells and platelets are being transfused, mainly, it is possible to relieve the symptoms, since there will be a greater amount of oxygen being transported by the cells. In addition, the use of antibiotics in the vein helps to strengthen the immune system, helping to fight infections.

The use of drugs that help stimulate bone marrow activity and immunosuppressive drugs such as Methylprednisolone, Ciclosporin and Prednisone may also be indicated.

Despite these treatments, the only one that is effective in curing aplastic anemia is bone marrow transplantation, in which the person acquires a perfectly functioning marrow, promoting the formation of blood cells in optimal amounts. Understand what bone marrow transplantation is and how it works.

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