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Blood Disorders And How To Manage Them

Specific blood disorders such as anaemia affect both men and women. However, some people are at a higher risk due to genetics, age, or underlying health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. Read on to learn more about blood disorders and how to manage them.

What is a Blood Disorder?

Blood disorders are common and can be treatable or cancerous in severe circumstances. Underlying conditions or genetics can play a role in developing disorders that can impact your blood.

In most cases, they can be managed with adequate treatment. However, there are instances when they become chronic illnesses that could be life-threatening. Managing specific symptoms and underlying conditions can improve your health and lower the risk of severe blood disorders.

Types of Blood Disorders

Blood disorders can be classified according to their effects on the body. For example, anaemia is the most common and noncancerous type that develops when you have low levels of healthy red blood cells. You can inherit it, acquire it, or develop it due to specific lifestyle habits, such as poor nutrition.

These are the two common groups of blood disorders:

Blood Clotting Disorders

Blood clots can form too easily. While normal clotting is necessary to stop bleeding from injuries and start the healing process, severe clots can lead to a serious condition, deep vein thrombosis. Even though it’s treatable, it can result in blood clots lodging in your lungs, requiring emergency care.

Other types of blood clotting disorders include:

  • Antiphospholipid syndrome: This is an autoimmune disorder that affects people with lupus.
  • Protein C deficiency: This affects people with low levels of protein C, which protects them from severe blood clots.
  • Antithrombin deficiency: This genetic disorder increases your risk of hypercoagulation or deep vein thrombosis.
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation: This is an uncontrollable rare disorder that causes severe bleeding and clotting.
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria: In rare cases, the immune system attacks red blood cells, increasing the risk of blood clots.

Bleeding Disorders 

On the other hand, your blood may lack clotting properties due to a lack of specific proteins. These proteins assist with healing at the site of any injury and prevent blood loss. If your blood cells don’t have essential clotting properties, you might be at a higher risk of excessive blood loss and internal bleeding.

The most common bleeding disorders include:

  • Inherited haemophilia: This is a rare disorder that causes excessive bleeding into the joints after an injury, surgery, or related procedure.
  • Thrombocytopenia: This condition affects platelets in the bone marrow if you have a blood cancer, such as leukaemia, or an autoimmune disease, such as lupus.
  • Von Willebrand disease: A rare blood disorder that can be inherited or develops later in life. It can lead to recurrent and prolonged menstrual cycles, nosebleeds, excessive bleeding from cuts and injuries or bleeding gums.
  • Fibrinogen deficiency: Fibrinogen is a type of protein that ensures blood clotting. Low levels can lead to abnormal bleeding and clotting.

What are the Symptoms and Causes of Blood Disorders?

Common Symptoms of Blood Disorders

You might have several symptoms depending on the specific blood disorder and how it affects your body. It’s usual to experience fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If you have a blood clotting disorder, you might experience:

  • Chest pain.
  • Pain and swelling in your legs.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.

While continuous and excessive bleeding indicates a bleeding disorder, other symptoms include:

  • Blood in your stool.
  • Blood when you pee.
  • Bruising after minor injuries.
  • Internal bleeding that might cause joint pain.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Frequent nosebleeds.

What Causes Blood Disorders?

It’s difficult to specify the most common cause of blood disorders because several risk factors can lead to a condition that affects your blood. In some cases, you might inherit a specific disorder such as anaemia. On the other hand, you might develop one due to underlying conditions and risk factors such as:

  • Blood loss after an injury or surgery.
  • Chronic illnesses such as cancer, kidney disease, lupus, or liver disease.
  • Long-term infections.

Management and Treatment

A specialist doctor can identify and treat an underlying condition that might cause the blood disorder. The management of symptoms and treatment might include various options, such as monitoring your health and observing any new symptoms that might develop. If the condition increases the risk of life-threatening complications, they might consider:

  • Blood and platelet transfusions to boost your red blood cell levels.
  • Prescribing anticoagulants, which are medications that can help keep your blood from clotting too quickly.
  • Using growth factor supplementation to stimulate your bone marrow to produce more red and white blood cells.
  • Including steroids such as corticosteroids to suppress your immune system and treat autoimmune blood disorders like hemolytic anaemia.

How to Reduce the Risks of Blood Disorders

Taking care of your overall health is critical to reducing the risk of developing blood disorders caused by underlying conditions. While some conditions can’t be prevented, you should take the necessary steps to minimise the risk of developing severe complications. Here’s what you might consider:

  • Focus on a healthy and balanced diet rich in minerals, vitamins, and other foods that can help increase your iron intake.
  • Stay active with moderate exercises that can support your immune system.
  • Focus on maintaining a healthy weight that’s ideal for your lifestyle needs.
  • Prevent infections and practice good hygiene.
  • Schedule regular health screenings with your doctor and do blood tests if you are at risk of developing a blood disorder.

Living with a blood disorder might change your way of life. However, when you reduce your risk of complications, you can maintain and improve your quality of life. When you choose Affinity Health’s Day-to-Day coverage, you can use your Pathology benefit to diagnose and manage common blood disorders.

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