Aplastic Anemia

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Aplastic anemia is believed to be caused by your 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. But if you have a severe kind, you'll want to tap our experts in this blood disorder.

Aplastic Anemia Treatment at UVA Health   

At UVA Health, our blood disorder experts will tailor the best treatment plan for you. Treatment for aplastic anemia will depend on how severe your condition is and what caused it. We have all the treatment options. These may include: 

Blood Transfusions

Blood transfusions provide your body with the blood cells that your bone marrow has stopped producing. This is not a cure. It helps relieve symptoms.

Immune Suppressing Medication

These medications change or slow your immune system to keep it from damaging your bone marrow cells. This gives your bone marrow time to recover and begin producing blood cells again.

These medications are sometimes used along with steroids to reduce side effects. This treatment often requires a short stay in the hospital.

Bone Marrow Transplantation  

The replacement of diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow is the best treatment option for some with severe aplastic anemia. You will need a donor whose bone marrow matches your own as closely as possible.

Other Treatments  

Your aplastic anemia may be mild to moderate. It may also be caused by exposure to radiation, chemicals, or medications. Your doctor may choose to monitor your condition if the cause of the aplastic anemia is stopped. This approach can be enough to restore normal bone marrow function.

What Is 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 RBCs are low, the body does not get enough oxygen.

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

What Are the Risk Factors?

Factors that may 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 such as antibiotics, some illegal drugs, and medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bone marrow diseases
  • Pregnancy

Aplastic Anemia Symptoms   

Symptoms of aplastic anemia include:

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

Diagnosing Aplastic Anemia 

We'll ask about your symptoms and medical history. We'll do a physical exam.

We may test your bodily fluids with:

  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow biopsy

If you're diagnosed with aplastic anemia, you may need additional tests to determine the cause.

You'll want to be referred to a blood disorder specialist at UVA Health for further evaluation.