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Types of Anemia

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There are several other different types of anemia, each with a specific cause and treatment such as the following:

Hemolytic Anemia

This type of anemia develops when RBCs are destroyed faster than the rate of their replacement by bone marrow. The destruction of RBCs is known as hemolysis. The two main types of HA HA are inherited and acquired. Inherited HA is passed from parent to child whereas, in acquired HA, the person develops the condition due to a secondary cause. Hemolytic anemia can begin rapidly or develop gradually and can range from mild-to-severe. The diagnosis is based on the presence of anemia, signs of hemolysis with reticulocytosis, low haptoglobin, increased lactate dehydrogenase and indirect bilirubin and a positive direct antiglobulin test (Coombs test).1

The course of HA depends on the cause and the severity of the anemia. Mild HA may not require treatment but severe HA can be life-threatening if it is not treated. Definitive therapy includes the following:
  • Blood transfusion in presence of severe anemia.
  • Steroid therapy for severe immune-related HA.
  • Splenectomy can be helpful if extravascular hemolysis (where most of the RBCs are destroyed in the spleen) is predominant.

Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder caused by a point mutation leading to a substitution of amino acid valine for glutamic acid in the sixth position of the beta chain of hemoglobin. This mutation results in the production of structurally abnormal hemoglobin, called HbS. The abnormal HbS clusters together, distorting the RBCs into sickled shapes. These deformed and rigid RBCs get trapped within small blood vessels and block them, thus producing pain and eventually damaging organs supplied by these vessels.

Although there is no cure for SCA, a combination of fluids, painkillers, antibiotics and transfusions are used to treat symptoms and complications. Bone marrow transplant is the only potential cure for SCA. Nevertheless, very few people have a suitable donor for transplant.


Aplastic Anemia

This is a life-threatening anemia caused by a decrease in the bone marrow’s ability to produce all three types of blood cells, RBCs, white blood cells and platelets.Examination of the bone marrow will reveal hypoplasia or aplasia, meaning low growth or no growth of blood-forming stem cells. The most common cause of aplastic anemia (AA) may be an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system suppresses bone marrow stem cells. Other causes include infection with parvovirus, exposure to radiation or toxins such as benzene, chemotherapy drugs and other drugs such as chloramphenicol. 
The symptoms of AA can include increased bleeding, bruising, petechiae (small red spots on the skin or mucous membrane caused by very small hemorrhages), susceptibility to infections, fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath. Although AA can appear at any age, it is diagnosed more often in children and young adults. Treating AA involves suppression of the immune system. Treatment may include medications, blood transfusions or bone marrow transplant. Untreated AA can lead to rapid death, typically within six months. If diagnosed early and prompt treatment is begun, the survival rate for the next 5–10 years is substantially improved. 

Fanconi Anemia

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare, inherited blood disorder that leads to bone marrow failure. Characteristic features include the progressive developmentof bone marrow failure and an increased predispositionto malignancy.Affected individuals may also have oneor more congenital or developmental abnormalities including abnormalskin pigmentation (café au lait spots), skeletal(radial ray anomalies), genitourinary (horseshoe kidney),and gastrointestinal (duodenal atresia) abnormalities.The majority of FA patients present towardsthe end of their first decade of life.

The average life span for people who have FA is between 20 and 30 years. Many patients eventually develop acute myelogenous leukemia. Although bone marrow transplants can restore blood counts, people with FA are still more likely to get several types of cancers.

Anemia Associated with Bone Marrow Disease

Bone marrow disease often leads to different kinds of anemia that affect some or all types of blood cells. A variety of diseases such as leukemia and myelodysplasia can cause anemia by affecting blood production in the marrow. The effects of these types of cancer and cancer-like disorders may vary from a mild variation in blood production to a complete, life-threatening cessation of the process.

Written by: healthplus24 team
Date last modified: July 04, 2011

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