Blood disorders

What are blood disorders?

Blood disorders or haematological conditions are conditions that affect the components of blood, that is, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and blood plasma. These conditions can be classified according to which component they affect and based on what causes them.

  • A blood disorder affecting the red blood cells may cause an increase or decrease in their volume or amount;
  • Disorders of the white blood cells may lead to an abnormality in their production and amount;
  • Conditions affecting the platelets may cause an alteration in their shape and amount, prompting coagulation disorders;
  • A disorder affecting the blood plasma may lead to coagulation disorders and an increased risk of haemorrhage.

Blood disorders can be caused by:

  • Genetic factors;
  • Inherited factors;
  • Nutritional factors;
  • Autoimmune conditions;
  • Infections;
  • Concurrent conditions or treatments.

What are the symptoms of blood disorders?

The symptoms largely vary according to the specific type of condition. A few examples include paleness and fatigue (red blood cells disorders), fever, itchy and enlarged lymph nodes and spleen (white blood cells disorders), formation of thromboses or clots or presence of spots on your skin (platelet conditions).

How are blood disorders diagnosed?

The most common test is a blood test with a complete blood count (CBC) performed, which may be followed by other tests and exams in case the results of the blood test show any abnormalities. These include reticulocyte count, clotting assessment, protein test, bone marrow examination and other, more specific haemocytes tests.

How can blood disorders be treated?

Much like the symptoms, treatment options largely vary according to the specific type of condition as well. For instance, taking vitamin B12 and iron supplements in case of anaemia; medications, blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants in case of thalassemia (an inherited blood disorder); taking biological medicinal products and doing chemotherapy and immunotherapy in case of myeloma.

Which doctor should I talk to?

If you have a haematological condition, you should see a specialised haematologist.