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Aplastic Anemia

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Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia was discovered in 1888 by the physician Paul Ehrlich.

Aplastic anemia is a condition that occurs when the body stops producing

enough new blood cells due damaged bone marrow, and blood stem cells .

Thus, "aplastic" refers to inability of the stem cells to generate the mature blood

cells. In aplastic anemia, something either destroys the stem cells or drastically

changes the environment of the bone marrow so that the stem cells can not

develop properly. Some factors which can cause this problem are: exposure to

radiation, chemotherapy, environmental toxins, anti-convulsive medications,

certain viral infections, including viral hepatitis B, parvovirus B19, HIV and

infectious mononucleosis , and autoimmune disease- where the body

inappropriately attacks its own blood stem cells. Some people are more likely to

develop aplastic anemia because of genetics. For example, Fanconi's anemia is

an inherited condition that causes aplastic anemia and also physical

abnormalities. Some women develop a mild form of aplastic anemia during

pregnancy, but it tends to disappear after delivery.

Aplastic anemia affects two to six of every 1 million people each year in

the United States and Europe. Symptoms and Signs of aplastic anemia include:

pallor, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, rapid pulse, bruising of the

skin, abnormal bleeding from the gums, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract, or

blood in the urine.

In order to properly diagnose aplastic anemia, blood tests are used to

measure levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Aplastic

anemia is suspected when the tests show that levels of all three blood cell types

are extremely low, but the cells themselves look normal. A bone marrow biopsy

is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Aplastic anemia is typically a short-term condition when it develops as a

result of certain types of drug exposure, pregnancy, infectious mononucleosis or

low-dose radiation. It can be a long-term problem when the cause is unknown, or

when it develops as a result of hepatitis, certain toxins (benzene, solvents,

insecticides), certain medications, high-dose radiation, or autoimmune disease.

Treatment for aplastic anemia may include medications such as antibiotics

and antivirals, blood transfusions, immunosuppressant drugs, bone marrow

stimulants or a stem cell transplant.

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