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Blood Dyscrasia

Hematologic problems

  • Diseases of the blood-forming organs. In most cases, this involves diseases of the bone marrow, but it might also involve the spleen and/or the liver. 
  • The term "dyscrasia" originated in earlier medical "science" and referred to the "four humors."  It has come to mean simply "disease" or "pathological condition."
  • Thus, blood dyscrasia is a pathological condition of the blood, usually involving disorders of the cellular elements of the blood.

  • Generally, there are 1-3 of these symptoms:
  1. Bleeding problems due to poorly functioning platelets or decreased platelets, or loss of certain body proteins called "clotting factors"
  2. Weakness or pale skin color due to poorly functioning red blood cells or decreased numbers of red blood cells 
  3. Frequent infections due to poorly functioning white blood cells or decreased numbers of white blood cells
  • Symptoms associated with the following common blood dyscrasias (for in-depth discussions of specific diseases, see the title headings):
  1. Diseases of platelets:

    • ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) -- sudden onset of small and large bleeding points in the skin; often following a virus infection, or aspirin use.
    • Sometimes, there are Nosebleeds or bleeding gums.
    • TTP (Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) -- anemia, fever, and bleeding as in ITP
  2. Diseases of clotting factors:

    • Hemophilia -- significant bleeding during circumcision, bleeding into the joints and muscles, easy bruising, significant bleeding during surgery
    • Von Willebrand's Disease -- frequently, a history of familial bleeding tendency; bleeding gums,Nosebleeds, easy bruising
  3. Diseases of red blood cells:

    • Sickle cell anemia -- early symptoms are severe, recurrent episodes of abdominal pain; bleeding into the joints; and enlargement of the spleen.
  4. Diseases of white blood cells:

    • Leukemia -- early signs and symptoms are anemia, bleeding tendency, bone pain, and serious infection. 

  • There are genetic causes, which are determined by family background. 
  • There are also diseases that occur from mutation in one's genes, or infection, or from unknown causes.

  • A wide range of diseases of platelets, clotting factors, red blood cells, and white blood cells all fall under this category.  Each one has different method of diagnosis, discussed in detail under the individual disease headings (see ITP, TTP,HemophiliaVon Willebrand's Disease, sickle cell anemia, and Leukemia).

  • Family members with one of these blood dyscrasias:
  1. Serious viral infection
  2. Serious bacterial infection
  3. Ancestors from certain countries or certain parts of the world

  • Dependent on the particular disease 
  • Steroids may be of benefit.
  • Replacement of the missing factor, such as red blood cells or platelets, might be used.

  • ITP: complications include bleeding into a critical body part such as a major organ.
  • TTP: complications are generally the same as ITP.
  • Hemophilia: complications include bleeding into various joints, bleeding into the brain, and hemorrhage into the intestinal tract.
  • Von Willebrand's Disease: complications are recurring Nosebleeds and heavy menstrual periods. More serious cases of this disease may have more serious bleeding, such as bleeding into a joint.
  • Sickle cell anemia: complications include Sepsis, painful crises (blood clots inside various blood vessels), aplastic crises (the bone marrow stops forming new blood elements), and stroke (cerebrovascular accident).
  • Leukemia : complications include bleeding into a critical body part, such as a major organ; serious infections; and DIC. (See DIC, i.e., disseminated intravascular coagulation).

  • Usually, the physician will order a complete series of blood tests, depending upon the symptoms presented, and medical and family history.
  • Some of the above conditions and complications are quite serious and may warrant immediate medical attention, so don't delay if you suspect any of the blood dyscrasias.

  • Normal people who bruise easily


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