Aplastic anemia occurs when the bone marrow fails to produce red and white blood cells. Although the process is usually slow, there are instances where it may occur in a very short period of time. The inadequate number of white cells leaves the body prone to infection. Inadequate red cells limit the transportation of oxygen to cells and insufficient numbers of platelets may produce uncontrollable bleeding.
This is a rare disorder, striking men more often then women, and commonly occurring in young adulthood. Recovery can take many months. When the disease is the result of using chemotherapy drugs, the chance of recovery is better. Severe aplastic anemia can lead to death in a large portion of patients suffering from this disorder.
Causes of Aplastic Anemia
Exposure to toxic agents accounts for about half of all cases of aplastic anemia. These agents include arsenic, benzene, and other industrial chemicals. Immunosuppressive and anticancer drugs as well as exposure to radiation can produce aplastic anemia.
Signs and Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia
The symptoms which occur in aplastic anemia reflect the lack of the various cells produced by the bone marrow. Increased susceptibility to infection is a common problem, Bleeding and easy bruising occur. This might produce frequent nose bleeds, bleeding from the mouth or gums and vaginal or rectal bleeding. Pallor, fatigue, weakness, and breathlessness reflect a lack of red cells which transport oxygen.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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