What Is Blood disorders?
The blood comprises three components -- red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), platelets and plasma. When there is a problem with any one of the types of cells, the condition is known as a blood disorder. All the three kinds of cells are vital and form the bone marrow or the soft tissue that is present inside the bones.
- Red Blood Cells: They help to transport oxygen to the tissues and various organs in the body.
- White Blood Cells: These cells help the body to fight infections.
- Platelets: These are the small circulating cells that helps in the clotting of blood.
Blood cell disorders damage the formation and the functioning of one or more of these blood cells. Blood disorders can also affect the plasma, which is the liquid portion of the blood.
Detailed information on types of blood disorders and their causes is given in 'causes' section.
What Are The Symptoms Of Blood disorders?
The symptoms depend on the type of blood disorder and the cells that are affected.
Symptoms of RBC disorders are:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trouble in concentrating (due to lack of oxygenated blood supply to the brain)
Symptoms of WBC disorders are:
- Chronic infections
- Malaise (feeling of being unwell)
- Unexplained weight loss
Symptoms of platelet disorders are:
- After an injury, the blood does not clot
- Cuts or sores that heal very slowly or don’t heal at all
- Easy bruising of the skin
- Bleeding from gums
- Unexplained nosebleeds
What Are The Causes Of Blood disorders?
Disorders Affecting RBCs:
Anaemia: Anaemia is caused due to a low count of RBCs.
- Iron Deficiency Anaemia
- Low iron intake
- Blood loss from GI tract due to cancer or ulcers
- Anaemia of Chronic Disease
- Chronic diseases
- Kidney disease
- Pernicious Anaemia (vitamin B12 deficiency)
- Weakened stomach
- Autoimmune disease
- Aplastic Anaemia
- Epstein-Barr (human herpesvirus)
- Chemotherapy medications
- Side effect of a drug
Autoimmune Haemolytic Anaemia
- May be caused with or due to another disorder like lupus
- May be caused due to some drugs like penicillin (rarely)
- Genetic defect passed on from parent to child
- Sickle Cell Anaemia
- Inherited genetic defect
- Polycythemia Vera
- Too many blood cells are produced due to gene mutation
Blood Disorders Affecting WBC
- Lymphoma: A kind of blood cancer caused when a WBC becomes malignant, multiplies and spreads abnormally.
- Leukaemia: The Exact cause is unknown. May be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
- Multiple Myeloma: The Exact cause is unknown.
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome: Largely the cause is unknown or may be caused due to exposure to radiation and chemicals.
Blood Disorders Affecting Platelets
- Thrombocytopenia: Low number of platelets in the blood
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (low blood platelets): Cause unknown
- Heparin-induced Thrombocytopenia: caused due to a reaction against heparin (blood thinner medication)
- Essential Thrombocytosis or Primary Thrombocythemia: Cause unknown
Blood Disorders Affecting Blood Plasma
- Haemophilia: Caused due to a genetic deficiency of certain proteins.
- Von Willebrand Disease: (too much or too little protein): Inherited genetic condition
- Hypercoagulable State (blood clots very easily)
- Deep Venous Thrombosis:
- Injury to vein
- Limited movements
- Certain medications
- DIC or Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
- Severe infections
- Complications due to pregnancy
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Blood disorders?
- Exercise regularly and keep fit as this helps you to stay energetic and reduces fatigue.
- If you are feeling very fatigued for unexplained reasons, then go and see a doctor.
- Have your medications or supplements prescribed for any of the conditions related to blood disorders regularly.
- Restricting your calorie consumption can help to improve your platelet count.
- Changing to a healthier diet can help to eliminate symptoms, flush the toxins from the body, improve immunity and prevent blood disorders. However, before going in for a complete change in your diet, do consult your doctor or nutritionist.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Blood disorders?
- Quit smoking as this lowers immunity and worsen the condition of blood disorders.
- Avoid taking supplements on your own. Check with the doctor before consuming any supplements for your condition, as it may interfere with any other medications you may be taking.
What Are The Best Foods For Blood disorders?
- Consume foods that are rich in iron like green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, etc., beans, pulses, brown rice, red and white meats, eggs, nuts and seeds, tofu, fish, eggs and dried fruits like raisins, apricots, prunes, walnuts, etc. These foods help to prevent anaemia. Eating fruits and vegetables, especially leafy vegetables are beneficial if you have platelet disorders.
- Foods rich in vitamin B12 like liver, eggs and dairy products help to prevent blood disorders like anaemia.
- Consume foods that are rich in folate like vegetables like broccoli, okra, Brussels sprouts, beans, lentils, pulses, etc.
- Foods rich in vitamin C like citrus fruits like oranges, guavas, lemon, etc. and fruit juices help in increasing iron absorption and prevent anaemia.
- Consume foods that are rich in zinc like wheat germ, spinach, etc. This helps to boost immunity and increase WBC production.
- Include foods that are rich in selenium like eggs, Brazil nuts, grass-fed beef, chicken, spinach, mushroom, beans, brown rice, chia seeds, etc. seeds like sunflower, sesame and flax seeds, broccoli, cabbage, etc. Selenium helps to build WBCs.
- Garlic is very good to boost immunity and WBC count.
- Following an anti-inflammatory and an anti-macrobiotic diet like minimizing animal foods such as dairy, poultry and meat and focusing on foods like beans, vegetables and whole grains can help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation and boost platelet count.
What Are The Worst Foods For Blood disorders?
- Avoid coffee, tea and colas with your meals, as they prevent the absorption of iron and can increase the risk of anaemia.
- Avoid drinking alcohol as it can cause anaemia.
- Avoid white bread, white rice and white sugar as these are the worst foods for WBC and also attack your immunity. Avoiding these foods can also help to increase blood platelet levels.
- Avoid having foods containing aspartame, quinine (tonic water, bitter lemon, bitter melon, etc.) or alcohol as they can cause depressed platelet count and eliminating them from your diet can cause the platelet count to rise.
- Avoid foods that cause food sensitivities and suppress platelet counts such as cranberry juice, tahini paste, cow’s milk, etc.
What Are The Medicines For Blood disorders?
What Are The Tips To Manage Blood disorders?
- If you are experiencing any emotional stress because of any blood disorders, don’t get anxious. Join a support group or speak to a counsellor who can help you to cope with stress.
- You can take up some relaxing activities like meditation, yoga, etc. to cope with stress.