Blood Diseases

Do you know what is your blood made up of? There are several components of blood- red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Your blood majorly consists of plasma which is the liquid part and consists of protein and salts. Red blood cells work to supply oxygen to the tissues, white blood cells are important to fight infections and platelets help in clotting. When one or more parts of the blood get affected by blood diseases, your blood is unable to perform its core functions. In most cases, blood diseases are hereditary but there are several other reasons such as other diseases, deficiency of nutrients and side-effects of medications, that can cause a blood disease to occur.

What are the symptoms of a blood disease?

Symptoms of blood diseases are different from one another. It depends on what part of the blood is affected and how severe it has become. Let us tell you the general signs of a blood disease.

Symptoms of red blood cell diseases:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Exhaustion for no reason
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Forgetfulness and problem in concentrating

Symptoms of white blood cell diseases:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Exhaustion for no reason
  • Frequent infections
  • Slowly healing wounds or wounds are not healing

Symptoms of platelet diseases:

  • Slowly healing injuries or they are not healing
  • Blood isn’t controlled or clotting is not formed
  • Skin gets bruised easily without any reason
  • Unexplained bleeding from gums, nose or urogenital system

Blood Diseases Affecting Red Blood Cells

Anaemia: This is a very common blood disorder that is caused when the number of red blood cells becomes too low in the blood. Mildly anaemic people don’t show significant symptoms but severe anaemic people may experience a problem in breathing, fatigue and pale skin.

Iron-deficiency anaemia: You must have heard that iron is very important for the body. It is because it makes red blood cells. When you don’t consume an adequate amount of iron, it causes iron-deficiency. Menstruating women should have iron to combat red blood cell loss during periods. 

Chronic Disease Anaemia: People who have chronic diseases like kidney diseases are highly likely to develop anaemia. This doesn’t require treatment as this can be managed by a synthetic hormone named Epogen or Procrit to increase the production of red blood cells. Only some patients may require blood transfusions.

Pernicious anemia or vitamin B12 deficiency: If you are not consuming enough vitamin B12 or your body is unable to absorb this vitamin from your diet, this anaemia may be caused. The common cause of this condition is an autoimmune disease.

Aplastic anemia: In this disease, there is a problem with the bone marrow as it doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. Hepatitis, pregnancy, HIV, chemotherapy medications and side-effects to any drug may be causing this condition. If the condition is not treated with medications and blood transfusions, the patient may need a bone marrow transplant.

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia: When the red blood cells are destroyed due to an overactive immune system, it causes hemolytic anaemia. Immune-suppressing medicines can help in controlling this condition.

Thalassemia: This is a chronic blood disease wherein the patients are administered blood transfusions regularly.

Polycythemia vera: Excess of red blood cells is also injurious to health. If the body produces too many red blood cells, it may cause unnecessary blood clots.

Malaria: Not many people know but malaria is also a red blood cell disease where the mosquito carrying the parasite bites a person and injects the parasite into the blood. This causes infection in red blood cells and leading to numerous symptoms. 

Blood Diseases Affecting White Blood Cells

Lymphoma: This is a kind of blood cancer where a white blood cell named lymphoma becomes malignant and starts to multiply and spread abnormally. The two types of this cancer are- Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can reduce the damage and cure this cancer condition.

Leukaemia: This is another blood cancer where white blood cells inside the bone marrow become malignant. Leukaemia may be slow progressing or severe and the best ways to combat this condition are bone marrow transplant(stem cell transplant) and chemotherapy.

Multiple myeloma: This is another blood cancer where plasma cell becomes cancerous and releases a dangerous substance that can cause damage to organs. There is no cure for this condition but treatments like chemotherapy and stem cell transplant can extend the life span of the patient.

Myelodysplastic syndrome: This is a slowly-progressing syndrome that is a blood cancer. This can progress into acute leukaemia. 

Blood Diseases Affecting Platelets

Thrombocytopenia: When the number or platelets in the blood are very low, thrombocytopenia condition can be caused. This disorder is characterised by abnormal bleeding.

Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia: This thrombocytopenia condition is induced by heparin which is a blood thinner that helps in the prevention of blood clotting. This can cause a low platelet count. Abnormal bleeding, abnormal bruising and red spots on the skin are symptoms of this condition.

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: This is a very rare condition where clotting occurs in the blood vessels leading to a drop in the platelet count.

Primary thrombocythemia or Essential thrombocytosis: In this condition, the body produces excess platelets due to either reason but these don’t use up properly leading to bleeding and excessive blood clotting.

Blood Diseases Affecting Blood Plasma

Haemophilia: This is a deficiency in genes where some proteins trigger the blood to clot. Depending on the severity of the condition, there are different types of Haemophilia.

Hypercoaguable state: This is a condition where the blood easily clots and in most cases, this condition goes unnoticed and undiagnosed. Some people may suffer from this condition throughout their lives and some have a severe form of this condition where they may need to take blood thinning medicines daily to combat the situation.

Deep venous thrombosis: In this blood disorder, blood clotting occurs in the deep vein which is mostly in the leg. This disease can travel to your vital organs where it may also cause a pulmonary embolism.

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC): This is a blood disease that causes unnecessary bleeding and small blood clots in the entire body. Several conditions like pregnancy complications, recent surgery and severe infections can lead to this condition.

von Willebrand disease: In this blood disorder, the body either produces too little or too high von Willebrand factor protein. This protein is essential in blood clotting. In most cases, this disease is inherited but sadly, it doesn’t have visible symptoms.