What is blood disease?

A blood disease is a disease that affects the blood. Many blood diseases are congenital, the result of inherited genetic disorders. Others can be acquired, typically in response to some kind of stress on the body. Blood diseases or blood disorders, as they are sometimes called, are distinct from blood-borne diseases, diseases that are carried in the blood. One of the key differences between a blood disease and a bloodborne disease is that blood diseases are not contagious.

There are four types of blood diseases. Coagulopathies are disorders related to bleeding and coagulation, such as hemophilia. Anemias refer to a lack of hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that is vitally necessary for oxygen transport. Haematological malignancies such as leukemia are cancers that affect the blood and bone marrow, while hemoglobinopathies are blood diseases that have to do with the structure of red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is a classic example of hemoglobinopathy.

In the case of a blood disease caused by genetics, treatment of the disease usually focuses on managing symptoms to keep the patient comfortable and help them lead a normal life. In hemophilia, for example, the patient receives coagulation factors so that the blood clots normally. These diseases cannot be cured, but they can often be managed very effectively. With the use of gene therapy in the future, it is possible to address the underlying cause of such disorders.

Blood diseases with external causes, such as diseases that lead to anemia, can be treated by addressing the cause, which also clears up the disease. In the case of malignant tumors of the blood, the blood can be treated with chemotherapy and radiation to kill the malignant cells, with more extreme procedures such as bone marrow transplants and blood infusions used in particularly aggressive cases.

Many blood diseases are identified early, because the symptoms can be very debilitating for the patient. In the case of genetic diseases, people who know their children are at risk may order tests soon after birth to see if the genetic disorder is present, and some parents use genetic testing in assisted reproduction to select embryos that are free of the disorder. genetic. . In other cases, people go to the doctor for symptoms such as fatigue, pale gums, excessive bleeding or clotting, joint pain, etc., and the blood disease is diagnosed with the help of medical tests.

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