Presented and written by Adaoma Nwogu
What is a blood disorder?
There are many types of blood disorders that are treated in different ways depending on the type and severity of the disorder. Only few people with blood disorders will need a stem cell transplant. Some are easily treated while others are life-threatening.
Blood disorders can affect any part of your blood including:
Red blood cells which carry oxygen round your body.
White blood cells which fight infection.
Platelets which help the blood to clot.
Plasma which is the liquid part of your blood.
Sickle cell anaemia
Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited blood disorder where the red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body develop abnormally. Normal red blood cells are flexible and disc-shaped but in sickle cell anaemia they become rigid and shaped like a crescent or sickle.
The sickle-shaped cells contain defective haemoglobin, the iron-rich protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The abnormal cells are also unable to move around easily as normal shaped cells and can block blood vessels, resulting in tissue and organ damage and episodes of severe pain.
Symptoms of sickle cell anaemia Lethargy (a lack of energy)
Breathlessness especially after exercise.
Jaundice (a yellowish colour of the skin or whites of the eye)
Paler than normal skin or mucous membranes
Coldness in the hands or feet.
Diagnosis for sickle cell anaemia:
It can be diagnosed using a blood test. The blood is checked for defective haemoglobin. A small level of defective haemoglobin would indicate that a person has the sickle cell trait but not sickle cell anaemia. A high level would indicate sickle cell anaemia.
Antenatal screening is used to check for inherited disorders such as sickle cell anaemia during pregnancy. Leukaemia
Leukaemia is a cancer of blood-forming cells. There are different types of leukaemia so if you develop leukaemia, it is important to know what type it is this is because the prognosis (outlook) and treatments vary for the different types. What is leukaemia?
It is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow. With leukaemia, the cancerous cells in the bone marrow spill out into the bloodstream. Chronic leukaemia is classified according to the type of white blood cells affected by cancer. Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia affects the types of WBC’s called lymphocytes
Signs and symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
Repeated infections that occur over a short space of time. • Tiredness due to lack of red blood cells (anaemia)
• Unusual bleeding and bruising
• Night sweats
• Bone pain
• Weight loss
• Swollen spleen
• Swollen lymph nodes (glands)
Most cases of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia are discovered during unrelated routine blood tests.
A bone marrow sample can also be used to confirm the diagnosis of leukaemia.
Cell and chromosome analysis: this is a detailed test that is often done on abnormal cells obtained from the bone marrow sample or blood test.
Lumbar puncture is used to find out if the leukaemia has spread to the brain and spinal cord.
A chest X-ray can be used to diagnose leukaenmia.
Red blood cells are very