Definition Aplastic anemia and MDS (Myelodysplastic syndromes) are disorders that normally affect the blood and the bone marrow. The bone marrow usually gives rise to the stem cells that are responsible for the production of either the red blood cells, white blood cells or the platelets. In the case of aplastic anemia, the production of these cells is hampered resulting in shortage of these in their body. Contrary, MDS does not result to a shortage of bone marrow stem cells. This disorder is described by defective and slow maturing stem cells. Most cells that mature usually die in the bone marrow before reaching the bloodstream.
Causes of Aplastic Anemia and MDS
Though there is evidence of inheritance of bone marrow failure, other causes of aplastic anemia and MDS are not quite clear. However, research has shown that these two defects are triggered by some factors which make the body, kill the bone marrow cells. These factors include the following:
a) Radiation therapy
b) Some viral infections
c) Treatment of cancer through constant chemotherapy
d) Prolonged exposure to high frequency radiations like x-rays.
e) Exposure to benzene and pesticides (some contain toxic substances)
Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia and MDS
Aplastic anemia and MDS affects the bone marrow cells responsible for the production of the red blood cells, the white blood cells and the platelets. The red blood cells contain hemoglobin which transports oxygen around the body. The white blood cells are responsible for protection of the body against pathogens while platelets help in blood clothing. Distortion of the structure and functioning of these vital cells by aplastic anemia and MDS, therefore, leads to the following symptoms:
a) General fatigue
b) The skin becomes pale and sometimes with visible red spots as a result of bleeding from arteries
d) Injuries results to excess bleeding
e) Low immunity hence sudden infections increases.
f) General body weakness
Though symptoms vary from patient to patient according to the extent of the disorders, all the above symptoms are very common in aplastic anemia. However, it is very complex to diagnose MDS because it often assumes the general symptoms experienced in other diseases.
Common types of anemia are:
- Microcytic Anemia
- Macrocytic Anemia
- Hypochromic Anemia
Aplastic Anemia and MDS Treatment And Precautions
Severe Aplastic anemia is treated in the following ways:
- Stem Cell Transplant: It is done through the replacement of a patient’s damaged cells with the bone marrow of a healthy donor.
- Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy: Chemotherapy normally prevents the growth of the affected cells as well as stopping them from multiplying.On the other hand radiation therapy involves the uses of rays of high frequencies that penetrate into the body cells killing the damaged cells.
- Use of Immunosuppresors: Doctors can prescribe medications that suppress the immunity of the patient, thereby preventing damage to the bone marrow.
- Blood Transfusion: This is whereby blood from a normal person is injected into a patient.
- Balanced Diet: Eating foods rich in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium helps build the bone.
Significance of National Aplastic Anemia and MDS Awareness Week
The National Aplastic Anemia and MDS week is normally set aside to celebrate those who have survived these disorders. It is a day when people can meet to share experiences, encourage the patients, do advocacy and volunteer either materially or through blood donation towards treatment of people suffering from these disorders.
Ways Of Participating In The Awareness Week
This year’s event is set to take place in March between 1st and 7th. Activities are highly publicized through the Facebook page “Aplastic Anemia and MDS week 2017.” There is also an event named “swabbing across the states” aimed at reaching out to people across the US state within the one week campaign. To take part in this event, volunteers can register with Aplastic Anemia and MDS Foundation. One is then given the swab kit upon registration. Apart from liaising with the foundation, registration can also be done through the ‘Delete Blood Cancer/DKMS’ before (respective registration date). Volunteers can make arrangements by contacting them through the email: [email protected] or simply calling through the number (866) 340-3567.
Other ways of participating are as outlined below:
- Download the press release and publicize it through social media
- Include the link www.AAMDS.org in social media so as to reach out to friends.
- Create an awareness and fundraising page through social media
- Like AA&MDSIF Facebook page as well as follow it on twitter.
The Views Of The People Concerning The Awareness Week
There is always this feeling of looking for an opportunity to make oneself a hero. Most people, therefore, see an opportunity like this awareness week as a perfect moment to create impact and leave a mark in lives of others. However, the problem is that some of them are not much aware of the exact week of the event so as to plan their schedules earlier.
National Aplastic Anemia and MDS Awareness Week Message
The message of this year’s Aplastic Anemia and MDS week is ‘Bone marrow failure disease can strike any person, of any age, any gender, or any race, anywhere in the world.’
This great day is always dedicated to creating awareness among different groups of people about Aplastic anemia and MDS. People are educated about the causes, treatment and the management of the disorders. Importance of helping the patients affected by these disorders is greatly emphasized.