All You Need to Know About Hematology and Common Blood Disorders

 

Hematology is the study of human blood to discover and rectify problems that affects the patient’s white blood cells, red blood cells, blood vessels, platelets, lymph node, bone marrow and more. A specialist in this study is known as hematologist, a person will be referred to best hematologist in India if he is diagnosed with a blood disorder. 

There is a range of blood disorders and symptoms depend on the type. Some common symptoms include weight loss and unexplained fatigue. Most of the disorders decrease the proteins, number of cells, or nutrients in the blood. Most of the blood disorders are caused due to changes in specific genes and can be inherited from family members. Additionally, medications, medical conditions and lifestyle factors can also cause blood disorders.

Types of white blood cell disorders

White blood cells help to fight against infection. These cells begin life in the bone marrow and develop in different types of cells. The major types are:

  • Lymphocytes kill viruses and regulate the immune system
  • Neutrophils destroy viruses and bacteria
  • Macrophages or Monocytes eat dead fungus or bacteria
  • Eosinophils helps body to respond to allergic reactions

Some white blood cells disorders impact all types of white blood cells in the blood, while other only impacts two or three. Of these blood cells, lymphocytes and neutrophils get impacted most. Most of the white blood cell disorders are types of cancer. There are three major types of blood cancer that impact white blood cells:

  • Lymphoma

It occurs when lymphocytes change rapidly. There are two types of lymphoma Hodgkin’s and non- Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Leukemias

Leukemia involves build-up of abnormal white blood cells, which impacts its ability to produce red blood cells.  It can be acute or chronic and develop quickly.

  • Myelomas

It involves the build-up of plasma cells in the bone marrow, which further impacts the development and function of other cells. The common myeloma is multiple myeloma, where abnormal cells form a tumor in the marrow. 


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Symptoms of white blood cell disorders

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Unexplained exhaustion

Treatment and Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose lymphomas, leukemia and myeloma using:

  • Blood Tests
  • Medical Exam
  • Urine Tests
  • Imaging Tests
  • Lumbar Puncture

Blood cells that do not cause symptoms may not require treatment apart from monitoring. Doctors treat patients with active blood cancers using:

  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Targeted drug therapy
  • Stem cell transplants

Types of red blood cell disorders

When there are not enough red blood cells, it is condition of Anemia. The most common types are:

  • Iron-deficiency 
  • Pregnancy Anemia
  • Vitamin-deficiency Anemia, usually caused by low intake of Vitamin B-12 and folate
  • Non-inherited hemolytic anemia
  • Inherited hemolytic anemia 
  • Aplastic anemia

Treatment and diagnosis

If the cause of anemia is not obvious, such as infection or injury, a doctor will:

  • Do a physical examination
  • Carry out blood tests
  • Do bone marrow biopsy
  • Review individual medical history

Treatment for red blood cells disorders depends on the cause but commonly includes surgery, blood transfusions, dietary changes and more. 

Signs of red blood cell disorders

  • Unexplained exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle weakness

Types of platelet cell disorders

The common platelet disorders include 

  • Hemophilia

Hemophilia is a genetic condition caused due to clotting factors in the blood. People suffering from this disorder bleed longer, both internally and externally. It is inherited from parents. 

  • Von Willebrand disease

It occurs when the body lacks the von Willebrand factor (VWF), a substance which helps platelets to stick together. Most cases of this disorder are mild and patients only require treatment if they are injured.

Symptoms of platelet disorder

  • Injuries that heal slowly
  • Unexplainable bruising
  • Difficulty controlling bleeding
  • Unexplainable bleeding from the nose, gums or urogenital system

Treatment and diagnosis

To diagnose platelet conditions, doctors will:

  • Perform a physical exam
  • Review individual and family medical history
  • Examine blood tests

The treatment options include:

  • Blood Transfusions
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Therapies such as birth control medications

Many blood disorders can affect different components of the blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma. Symptoms vary depending on the type of blood disorder and treatments also depends on the type and severity of the disorder.

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