Aplastic Anemia Overview
Aplastic anemia is a serious and rare condition in which the body stops producing enough new blood cells. This condition is also known as bone marrow aplasia which develops as a result of bone marrow damage.
This damage caused can be present at birth or may be due to transfusion medicines that occur after exposure to certain drugs, some harmful infections, chemotherapy, various harmful radiation, and toxic chemical substances.
The condition is really rare. The condition may be curable by an onco-hematologist depending upon the severity and the stage of aplastic anemia. Fewer than 100 thousand cases per year this condition requires a medical diagnosis.
The symptoms for this disease may start appearing slowly or sometimes suddenly. Aplastic anemia symptoms include fatigue, rapid heart rate and frequent infections and sickness accompanied by bleeding. Rapid heart rate is also a major symptom of this particular condition.
As mentioned in the very beginning the treatment for this condition depends on the severity of the condition. To diagnose aplastic anemia your doctor may ask you to go for blood tests. The blood tests will help a person to find out the levels of the red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets.
Usually, a low level of three of these blood cells i.e. the white blood cells, red blood cells, and blood platelets can determine the presence of aplastic anemia in your body.
Bone marrow biopsy is another procedure recommended by the doctor to find out the level of blood cells in a patient's body which in turn determines the presence of aplastic anemia in the patient's body. In this process, a small sample of bone marrow is removed from a large bone which is then examined to find out the presence of aplastic anemia.
In this condition, bone marrow contains fewer blood cells than the normal level of the three blood cells i.e. red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets. Once the disease present in a patient's body is confirmed as aplastic anemia, the patients need to go for additional tests and treatment procedures.
The treatment procedures also include transfusion medicine which manages the transfusion process of blood products and makes it happen in a smooth way without any obstacles and potential complications. If your doctor can identify the reason for the occurrence of aplastic anemia in your body and get rid of that trigger, aplastic anemia can be treated in an efficient way and the condition may go away.
It is really important for the doctors to figure out the cause of aplastic anemia in your body only then it can be treated and finally cured. The doctor may prescribe your hormone tests and drugs to help your blood count reach the normal level. Antibiotics and antifungal medications are often prescribed by the doctors to treat aplastic anemia.
If a patient is suffering from a severe case of aplastic anemia he/she will require going for a blood transfusion at a point of time. In case the blood count is really low the doctor will suggest the patient go for a bone marrow transplant for which the patient will require a donor whose blood is a close match.
This procedure though a bit risky can be a permanent cure to aplastic anemia. This procedure is often practiced on younger people. Even if a transplant is not an option the doctor may ask the patient to try and stop the body from attacking the patient’s bone marrow.
Before you go for any of the treatments mentioned above you must have a thorough conversation with your doctor and know about the respective risks of the various procedures. Given below are the procedures which are usually suggested by the doctor to treat aplastic anemia.
Aplastic anemia treatment usually involves blood transfusions to control the bleeding that occurs during the condition. This procedure does not offer a permanent cure to the condition but definitely relieves signs and symptoms by providing blood cells that your bone marrow isn't producing.
The procedure i.e. the transfusion increases the level of red blood cells and helps to temporarily cure fatigue and anemia and the transfusion of blood platelets helps to prevent excessive bleeding which occurs during the bleeding.
A bone marrow transplant is a part of aplastic anemia treatment. This procedure helps to rebuild the bone marrow with stem cells from donors. This treatment is often done in a severe case of aplastic anemia.
The treatment is often recommended to younger people who have a matching donor most often a sibling. The treatment is a long process and the patient needs to pay frequent visits to the hospital and to stay in the hospital for quite a long time.
In this treatment, it is often difficult to find a matching donor and the procedure carries its own risks. In this procedure, healthy cells from the donor are filtered from the blood. The healthy blood cells are then injected into the patient's bloodstream, where they migrate to the bone marrow cavities to produce new blood cells.
Anti-thymocyte globulin is a drug made by antibodies that work as an immune system suppressor. Aplastic anemia is the health disorder where bone marrow is incapable of making new blood cells, results lowering RBC, s in the body.
Immunosuppressive drug therapy is the treatment procedure for aplastic anemia patients whose bone marrow cells are mismatched with the donor. Anti-thymocyte globulin ATG Therapy is applied to reduce the chance of organ rejection in organ transplantation.
Effect of ATG therapy
ATG Therapy is given to the patient every 12 hours for days after bone marrow transplantation. ATG kills the T-Lymphocytic cell that attacks stem cells in the case of aplastic anemia. Anti-thymocyte globulin helps to regain bone marrow cells, blood counts in case of aplastic anemia.
ATG has the ability to enhance the blood count, which can stop the need for blood transfusion within a few months. It takes around 8-9 months to reach the average level in most of the cases.
ATG is an effective treatment for aplastic anemia done in the hospital, and it takes two weeks to complete. ATG therapy is avoided in case of low hemoglobin and platelet in the bloodstream. In these cases, platelet transfusion is done before starting ATG. ATG is a slow-releasing drug as it takes 12-18 hours to begin their effect.
Depending upon the treatment the cost of aplastic anemia treatment cost ranges between USD 9000 to USD 30000 or INR 6,00,000 to INR 21,00,000. The various treatments include blood transfusions, bone marrow transplantation, and antibiotics or drug therapy. The price of the treatment depends on the treatment option and the severity of the condition.
Aplastic anemia treatment cost is expensive but with proper treatment and medical help, a patient will be able to see positive results and get a permanent cure to this disease. With proper research, one can be able to find affordable packages to carry out various treatments.
- Other treatments for this condition include bone marrow stimulants, antibiotics, and antiviral. This condition makes the immune system weak making the patient prone to various other diseases and infections and frequent fevers. If not taken proper care and medication the infections caused due to aplastic anemia may get worse.
- To prevent these infections and give relief to the patients the doctor may give antibiotics or antiviral medications to help prevent infections to get worse and make the patient's condition better and less painful.
- Aplastic anemia which is caused due to radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer usually improves once the patient completes those treatments. Apart from treatments, a patient suffering from aplastic anemia must also take enough rest as this condition tends to make a person weak.
- Maintain personal hygiene and try to stay in a clean environment as much as possible this protects the patient from germs and reduces the risks of infection. Regular visits to the doctor are also important.
- The treatments which are done are safe and the patients tend to recover. Some of the immediate side effects of treatments that are quite common are nausea and a tendency to puke, fatigue, mouth sores, and diarrhea.
- The patients may not worry about these symptoms as they are quite common and natural as your body undergoes major treatment and thus, reacts to it. A patient diagnosed with aplastic anemia need to listen to the doctor follow a strict diet and maintains the utmost hygiene.
- To prevent frequent fevers and infections which occur during aplastic anemia a patient needs to get adequate sleep and avoid injuries. To prevent the increasing heart rate a patient avoids a visit to higher altitude areas and in general avoids traveling.
- The survival rate of people suffering from aplastic anemia is 80 percent for patients younger than age 20 who have a stem cell/ bone marrow transplant.
- Lack of proper treatment in this condition can be fatal and can cause serious infections. Proper treatment includes medicines to suppress your immune system to prevent serious medical conditions. Contact our team at Cancer Rounds for further details.