There are many types of blood disorders, including bleeding disorders, platelet disorders, bone marrow disorders, hemophilia, and anemia. There are also several cancers of the blood.
Blood disorders affect one of the blood’s main components – red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Treating these disorders is a key focus for our practice. To learn more about blood disorders, it’s first helpful to understand more about your blood.
Your blood is living tissues made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part is called plasma. The solid part of your blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Blood cells constantly die and your body makes new ones. Red blood cells live about 120 days, platelets six days, and white cells less than one day.
- Plasma: Plasma is made of water, salts, and proteins. More than half of your blood is plasma.
- Red Blood Cells: Red blood cells deliver oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and organs.
- White Blood Cells: White blood cells fight infection and are part of your body’s defense system.
- Platelets: Platelets help blood to clot.
- Bone Morrow: Bone marrow, the spongy material inside your bones, makes new blood cells.
Anemia is the most common type of blood disorder we treat. Patients with anemia have a deficiency of oxygen-rich red blood cells or their red blood cells do not function properly. A low level of hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein that carries the oxygen in red blood cells, signals the condition. Anemia can be chronic, or a temporary condition caused by other health issues, including cancer treatment, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS. Anemia frequently remains undiagnosed because it is an underlying condition of other health issues, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Some forms of anemia – those caused by nutritional or vitamin deficiencies – can usually be treated by small changes in your diet or taking vitamin supplements. In many cases, the symptoms can be temporary with no long-term effects.
Hemophilia is a rare, typically inherited blood disorder in which the blood does not properly clot and causes excessive bleeding, which can cause damage to organs, joints, and tissues. Patient may suffer excessive bleeding from the site of an injury or from internal bleeding.
Symptoms range from mild to severe. While there is no cure, we have several advanced treatment techniques which have significantly improved our patients’ quality of life.
Hematologists also treat conditions related to the proteins that trigger bleeding and clotting, including thrombosis (clotting) and hemostasis (bleeding).
Thrombosis refers to the formation of abnormal blood clots that become embedded in a major vein or artery, blocking blood circulation. Blood clots can cause pain, swelling, or warmth in the affected area, and can be life-threatening. Hemostasis is the process of controlling bleeding.
Cancerous blood conditions include leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
Leukemia originates in the bone marrow and involves quickly multiplying abnormal white blood cells that disrupt blood functions. Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas create problems within the body’s immune system, while multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells of the body.