Aplastic Anemia

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What is Aplastic Anemia?

Anemia can be described as a condition that inhibits the body from producing new red blood cells. Whereas anemia is rare, it is also very serious, because it can leave patients feeling fatigued, at a high risk for infection, and with a risk of uncontrollable bleeding. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In addition, they also remove carbon dioxide from the body's cells to the lungs, where it is exhaled. Red blood cells live for approximately 120 days, and it is the blood marrow that makes new ones. If the bone marrow can not replenish the blood cells, many health problems can result, including death.

The majority of aplastic anemia cases are caused by unknown factors; however, there are a few concrete links that have been discovered, such as the chemical benzene. Benzene is a colorless and sweet smelling chemical that has been directly related to a portion of the aplastic anemia cases. This chemical is naturally found in the environment, as well as in many man-made products, such as industrial solvents, drugs, plastics, gasoline, dyes, synthetic rubber, resins, detergents, and lubricants. There also a few natural producers of benzene are volcanoes, and forest fires. In addition, it is also a natural component of gasoline, cigarette smoke, and crude oil. High levels of, or prolonged exposure to, this chemical can cause a number of diseases and medical conditions, including aplastic anemia. Benzene-related aplastic anemia cases were first reported in the early nineteenth century, and since then, many fatal cases have been confirmed, although benzene is one of the most regulated chemicals in the United States. According to the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, chronic exposure at relatively high doses can cause benzene-induced aplastic anemia.

Aplastic anemia attacks all types of blood cells: red, white, and platelets. The initial symptoms include lethargy, fever, paleness, dizziness, and headaches. Because most of these symptoms are common in other illnesses, as well, aplastic anemia is often overlooked. However, if gone untreated, the symptoms grow in seriousness. For example, low levels of red blood cells correlate to having low levels of oxygen in body systems, therefore hindering the body from functioning properly. Signals of this are fatigue, bruising easily, weakness, and shortness of breath. As the numbers of white blood cells decrease, so does the immune system's strength to fight off infection. Illness tends to be long-lasting, and frequent, in this case. Since the number of platelets in the blood are disrupted by aplastic anemia, that body is unable to heal itself properly. Some effects are unstoppable bleeding, and bleeding from no known trauma.

Treatments for aplastic anemia include medication for mild cases. As with most diseases, as the cases become moderate to severe, the treatments as well become more intensive. Some potential treatments include antibiotics, bone marrow stimulants, possible blood transfusions, and bone marrow transplants, Luckily, in most benzene-induced aplastic anemia cases, the effects are reversible. As long as the high level of ongoing exposure is ceased, so should the symptoms related to aplastic anemia.

Aplastic anemia is a serious disease, but one that can be completely avoidable. If you were endangered by benzene, and are now suffering from aplastic anemia that you believe was the result of carelessness on the part of a company or employer, then you might have legal grounds to file a lawsuit against them. You should contact a lawyer immediately and discuss the medical diagnoses that you have received. A lawyer will be able to listen to your case and determine if you are entitled to financial compensation for your medical expenses.