Red Blood Cell Disorders and Diseases: An Overview

The red blood cells in our circulatory system are the carriers of oxygen from the lungs to the different parts of the body. When one of the several different types of red blood cell disorders affects a person, there is a problem with the proper functioning of the red blood cells and they may not be able to carry oxygen to the different organs of the body effectively.

Depending upon the type of red blood cell disorders that a person may have, the red blood cells may be fewer in number, they may die out faster than normal as in the case of anemia, or they may be malformed as in the case of sickle cell disease.

The word anemia comes from the Greek word “anaimia” that means ‘lack of blood’. In medical terms, anemia is a term used to refer to many different conditions that result in insufficient red blood cells or lower than normal level of hemoglobin in the blood. Anemia can also refer to the lessening of the ability of hemoglobin molecules to bind oxygen.

Aplastic Anemia

red-blood-cell-disordersAplastic anemia is one of the red blood cell disorders where not enough red blood cells are produced by the bone to replace the ones that die out in their normal course. This condition results in low counts of RBCs as well as low counts of platelets and white blood cells.

A person with aplastic anemia may be pale and may feel generally unwell. Bruises may appear easily and there could be a higher risk of hemorrhage. Since white blood cell count is also low in this type of anemia, a person may have poor immunity and may be prone to infections.

Hemolytic Anemia

This is another type of anemia where the red blood cells die or break down at an abnormal rate. Apart from the usual anemia symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness, a person may be at higher risk of conditions such as pulmonary hypertension and gall stones.

Nutritional Anemia

This refers to RBC problems caused by nutritional disorders. Pernicious anemia and iron deficiency anemia are two sub-categories of these red blood cell disorders.

Sickle Cell Anemia

Also referred to as sickle cell disease, this condition refers to a genetic condition where the shape of the red blood cells is abnormal. The rigid sickle shaped structure of the red blood cell causes various problems and also shortens the person’s life expectancy.

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