Aplastic Anemia

Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat. Aplastic anemia is a type of anemia caused by problems with bone marrow. It can range from mild to severe.

  • Causes

    Aplastic anemia is believed to be caused by the patient’s immune system attacking the bone marrow. It slows down the production of blood cells. In some cases, aplastic anemia is a temporary side effect of a medication. It can be reversed if exposure to the cause is stopped.

  • Definition

    Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat.

    Aplastic anemia is a type of anemia caused by problems with bone marrow. It can range from mild to severe.

    Location of Active Bone Marrow in an Adult
    nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests to diagnose aplastic anemia include:

    • Blood test
    • Bone marrow biopsy

    After you are diagnosed with aplastic anemia, you may need additional tests to determine the cause.

    You will be referred to a blood disorder specialist, a hematologist, or a special treatment center for further evaluation.

  • Prevention

    Most cases of aplastic anemia cannot be prevented. Limiting exposure to certain environmental toxins can reduce your risk of developing the disease. Environmental toxins include those found in gasoline, paint, oil and coal emissions, and industrial solvents.

  • Risk Factors


    Rick factors that increase your chances of having aplastic anemia include:

    • Exposure to certain environmental toxins such as those found in gasoline, paint, oil and coal emissions, and industrial solvents
    • High dose radiation and chemotherapy treatments
    • Certain viruses

    • Certain medications (eg, antibiotics, some illegal drugs, medications used to treat
      rheumatoid arthritis
      )
    • Bone marrow diseases
    • Pregnancy

    The cause of aplastic anemia is sometimes unknown.

  • Symptoms


    If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to aplastic anemia. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions.

    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath with activity
    • Weakness
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Pale skin
    • Easy bruising
    • Frequent infections
    • Nosebleeds
      and bleeding gums
    • Lengthy bleeding from cuts
    • Skin rash
    • Fever
    • Shortened attention span

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment for aplastic anemia varies according to severity and cause.


    If you are diagnosed with aplastic anemia, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .