Blood is usually referred to as the “elixir of life.” It performs many functions, from carrying oxygen to your organs to fighting infections. So, you can only imagine how serious of a health threat it is when you develop a disease that affects this essential body fluid.
Although there are plenty of blood diseases that doctors have a broad knowledge of, there are some rare conditions that still require a lot of research. Here are 3 of them:
This condition causes the body to stop making red (RBC) and white blood cells (WBC). Instead, it starts to produce scar tissues where the cell factories are supposed to be. A reduced amount of RBC means there isn’t enough oxygen being delivered to your organs. Fewer WBC, on the other hand, makes you susceptible to infections. There are less than 20,000 people in the United States who have this rare disorder.
Although the main cause of this disease is still unknown, there are a few known risk factors:
- Being aged 50-60 years old
- Exposure to industrial chemicals (toluene and benzene)
- Exposure to high levels of radiation
- Presence of another blood cell disorder (thrombocythemia or polycythemia vera)
- Bone pain
- Bruising and easy bleeding
- Shortness of breath
- Increased susceptibility to infections
Polycythemia Vera (PCV)
With this disease, the body produces too many RBC, leading to the “thickening” of the blood. This makes it difficult for the fluid to travel through small arteries to deliver oxygen to vital tissues. This condition can also be associated with a high platelet count and an enlarged spleen. PCV progresses very slowly. Prompt treatment and close medical monitoring can ensure the patient a long and healthy life.
Apart from people over the age of 60, men are more likely to develop this disease compared to women. Other risk factors are:
- Exposure to intense radiation
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Mutation in the JAK2 gene
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision or blind spots
- Problems with clotting
- Sudden weight loss
This results in the body producing too many eosinophils, which is a form of WBC. Secondary eosinophilia is the most common kind for this disease, and it usually points to a parasitic infection, intense allergic reaction, or form of cancer. There are two other types of this condition: familial, which is due to a gene mutation; and primary, which is related to certain leukemias and myelodysplastic syndromes.
People with a family history of certain conditions related to eosinophilia are more likely to develop it. Other risk factors are:
- Allergic rhinitis or hay fever
- Liver cirrhosis
- Inflammatory conditions
- Abdominal pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
These blood diseases may be rare, but they can still affect people. Thankfully, doctors and physicians taking up hematology CME are doing extensive research and studies to learn more about them and help treat patients with these conditions.