Treatments for aplastic anemia include blood transfusions, blood and marrow stem cell transplants, and medicines. Transfused red blood cells contain iron that accumulates in the body, leading to damage of the vital organs. If the resulting iron overload is not treated promptly, it can deliberately damage the organs. Over time, the body may develop antibodies to the transfused blood cells, which make them less effective at relieving the symptoms.
Although lifestyle changes can increase the red blood cells, such as a good amount of exercise, it also has its own consequence. Because it can make the body use more oxygen, it demands more red blood cell production.
An exercise training can increase the total Hb and red cell mass, which enhances their oxygen carrying capacity. The effects of the training are promising, and are likely to be considered an additional, safe and economical method to help improve anemia.
The bone marrow contains a small number of precious stem cells. Failure of the bone marrow cell production can result in damage to the stem cells or the environment, called aplastic anemia, when the level of the white cells and platelets also begin to fall after it produce less red blood cells.
A stem cell transplant to rebuild the bone marrow with stem cells from a donor may offer the only successful treatment option for people with severe aplastic anemia. The stem cell transplant is commonly called as the bone marrow transplant.
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Having aplastic anemia weakens your immune system, because of the fewer white blood cells. This leaves you susceptible to infection. However, there are lifestyle remedies, such as resting and protecting yourself from germs.
Keep in mind that you must have certain vitamins in order to make this work, especially B12 and B6, so make sure to get plenty of them in your diet.
Cut off certain things. Some medications can cause lower red blood cell counts, and so can excessive alcohol consumption. You may want to avoid aspirin and alcohol.
What if you have tried a diet rich in the nutrients needed, and you have also taken supplements, but your red blood cell count remains low? In that case, it might be time for medical intervention.
Keep in mind that this is usually a last resort, and most doctors will only go this route if your deficiencies in red blood cells are significant.
- Blood transfusion
- Erythropoietin hormone to stimulate the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells.
The Erythropoietin hormone
Erythropoietin is a substance produced by the kidney that leads to the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. The kidney cells that make EPO are specialized and are sensitive to low oxygen levels in the blood coming into the kidney.
These cells release erythropoietin when the oxygen level is low in the kidney. Erythropoietin stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells which in turn increases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.
Using recombinant DNA technology, EPO has been synthetically produced for use in persons with certain types of anemia: anemia due to kidney failure, anemia secondary to AZT treatment of AIDS, and anemia associated with cancer.
Millions of patients worldwide have benefited from research on erythropoietin spanning many decades. In the last 15 years, epoetin alfa (Epo) has become one of the most widely used drugs created through recombinant DNA technology, in which a nearly identical form of a substance that naturally occurs in the body, in this case, erythropoietin.
It is created by replicating the human DNA in a laboratory. Epo is used to treat anemia, a shortage of red blood cells. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues and organs, anemia causes symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Epo treats this condition by imitating the action of the hormone erythropoietin, stimulating the body to produce more red blood cells.
Patients who may benefit from Epo therapy include those with chronic kidney disease, those who are anemic from AIDS or from a wide variety of hematologic disorders (including multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes), and some cancer patients who are anemic from receiving chemotherapy.
In selected patients, Epo may be used to reduce the need for blood transfusions in surgery. Kidneys were the primary source of erythropoietin, and that low oxygen was the main driver of erythropoietin production.
Patients with anemia responded by increasing their levels of erythropoietin to stimulate increased red blood cell production.
Patients who required an increase in red blood cells in order to make up for low oxygen levels in the blood (such as patients with lung disease or patients living at high altitudes) also had elevated erythropoietin levels.
When you feed your immune system, you improve its fighting power. Your immune system and white blood cells work together to fight infections.
White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. They are called leukocytes or leucocytes, which are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders.
A blood cell disorder is a condition in which there’s a problem with your red blood cells, white blood cells, or the smaller, circulating cells called platelets, which are critical for clot formation. All three cell types form in the bone marrow, which is the soft tissue inside your bones.
Red blood cells transport oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues. White blood cells help your body fight infections. Platelets help your blood to clot.
Blood cell disorders impair the formation and function of one or more of these types of blood cells. Specific manipulation of the immune system for therapeutic purposes is not possible.
Many people suffering from anemia are treated with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs, which help the bone marrow produce RBCs), or hydroxyurea, a chemotherapy agent that reduces the number of unhealthy cells in the blood.
However, patients who do not respond to these agents must rely on regular blood transfusions to maintain proper RBC levels. While effective, transfusions are expensive, time-consuming, and associated with unique complications such as an iron overload.
For those patients who do not respond to Epo, the ACE-536 is the second compound in a new class of activin receptor proteins. The study and trial are ongoing among adults with transfusion dependent and non-transfusion dependent beta-thalassemia.
Know that anyone can get aplastic anemia, but it’s more likely to happen to people in their late teens and early 20s, and the elderly. Several factors can cause this, such as chemotherapy, exposure to radiation, medications, autoimmune disease, and environmental toxins like the insecticides.
Aplastic anemia. Health-Forever.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Aplastic anemia. Mayo Clinic.
NIH. Living with aplastic anemia.
The essence of life blog. Anemia: Foods that boost blood cells.
Zand, J., Rountree, R., Walton, R. & Gordon, J. N. (1994). Smart medicine for a healthier child. New York: Penguin Group.
Your bone marrow is predominantly found inside the long bones, those of your legs and arms. It consists of fat cells, blood vessels and specialized cells that produce vital red blood cells, immune cells and clot forming compounds.
Your bone marrow relies on foods that contain specific nutrients to keep it functioning and healthy. Good nutrition is a factor, vitamin supplements can be helpful when you are unable to eat a balanced diet.
Vegetables, especially the dark leafy green vegetables, provide support for your bone marrow through their high concentration of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K and calcium. They are specifically healthy foods for bone marrow. The vegetables help with the body’s efforts to produce platelets and supports your bones, such as spinach, collard greens, dandelion, asparagus, broccoli, and wheatgrass. Fruits for healthy bone marrow are raisins, prunes, and apricots. Avoid canned foods full of sugar and sodium, chemically treated foods, coffee, alcohol, and sugar.