What is Aplastic Anemia and How Can This Disease Be Cured?

Aplastic anemia is a rare medical condition in which red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes) and platelets in the body fail to be produced in sufficient quantities. This condition can occur because the spinal cord, which should play a role in producing new blood cells, is replaced by fatty tissue.

At first glance, aplastic anemia is characterized by symptoms that are almost the same as ordinary anemia, where sufferers will easily feel tired and weak. This is what can cause some people to have difficulty distinguishing between the two. However, you need to know that aplastic anemia is different from ordinary anemia, and even tends to cause more dangerous effects. Read the following article to find out more about what aplastic anemia is, its causes, symptoms and how to treat it.

What is Aplastic Anemia?

Although both are anemia conditions, aplastic anemia is different from ordinary anemia. Anemia is usually caused by a lack of iron in the body, while aplastic anemia can occur because the bone marrow fails to produce sufficient amounts of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Aplastic anemia is a rare and serious anemia condition. Because the body stops producing enough new blood cells, this condition makes the body tired easily and more susceptible to infection and bleeding. Apart from that, aplastic anemia can also be experienced at any age, whether caused by genetic factors or external factors.

Causes of Aplastic Anemia

  1. Genetic Factors ( Inherited Aplastic Anemia )
    Aplastic anemia caused by genetic factors can specifically occur due to heredity or damage to genes in the body. There are several genetic disorders that have been proven to be associated with aplastic anemia, such as Fanconi Anemia, Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, Congenital Dyskeratosis, and Diamond-Blackfan Anemia.

  2. External Factors ( Acquired Aplastic Anemia )
    Apart from genetic factors, aplastic anemia can also arise due to disruption of the immune system (autoimmune disease). The causes include:
    - History of viral infections, such as HIV, hepatitis, cytomegalovirus, etc.
    - Use of drugs, such as several types of antibiotics.
    - Exposure to dangerous chemicals, such as pesticides, benzene, etc.
    - Exposure to radiation or chemotherapy.

Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia

The complaints suffered by each individual with aplastic anemia can vary depending on what type of blood cells are deficient.

In cases of red blood cell deficiency, the symptoms that may arise are:

  • Weak.
  • Gets sleepy easily.
  • Dizziness or headache.
  • Pale
  • Heart pounding.
  • Hard to breathe.
  • Chest pain.

Meanwhile, symptoms that arise due to a lack of white blood cells can include:

  • Fever.
  • Get sick easily or experience recurring infections.

If the platelet count is low, the body will experience:

  • Bruises easily.
  • Uncontrolled bleeding, such as nosebleeds or bleeding gums.

How to Treat Aplastic Anemia?

Treatment of aplastic anemia aims to increase blood cell production and treat the symptoms that arise. Treatment varies, depending on the severity of the condition, the patient's age, and other factors. Following are some commonly used treatment methods:

  1. Blood transfusion
    Blood transfusions are given to sufferers to increase low red blood cell and platelet counts. This blood transfusion can be a temporary solution to overcome the symptoms of anemia and a high risk of bleeding.

  2. Drug Therapy
    The doctor will prescribe medications to prevent and treat infections, stimulate blood cell production in the bone marrow, or suppress the immune system response. The type of medication given varies, depending on the type of infection experienced by the patient.

  3. Bone Marrow Transplantation
    Bone marrow transplantation may be necessary for severe cases or when other treatments have been ineffective. This transplant is carried out by replacing damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow from a matched donor.

Consult at the Best Hospital

Aplastic anemia is a serious blood deficiency condition. If you experience symptoms or have risk factors for this condition, immediately consult a doctor. You can consult with the best doctors at the nearest EMC Hospital to confirm the diagnosis and get the right treatment. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the greater the chances of treating aplastic anemia and preventing more serious complications. Your health is our top priority, and we are ready to help you on your journey to optimal recovery.

Article written by dr. Lucrezia Renata, Sp.PD (Specialist in Internal Medicine at EMC Cibitung & Pekayon Hospital).