The human bone is made up of a compact (hard) bone mostly on the outer layer and a spongy (soft) bone more inner, the bone marrow is contained in the spongy bone part of most bones like the hips and thighs. It also contains stem cells which undergo a very necessary step in the bone marrow; they transition into one of the different blood cells, the red blood cell, white blood cell or platelets.
Bone marrow disease occurs as a result of an anomaly in the production of these blood cells. This anomaly in the production of leucocytes leads to leukemia, in red blood cells, the result is aplastic anemia; there is also a possibility for the bone marrow to make too many blood cells like in myeloproliferative disorder (too many white blood cells are being produced). The symptoms may be different, but are similar in nature:
- Pain: this pain is as a result of the constant pang that would occur in the joints, coupled with headaches. These complaints are typical in patients with bone marrow disorders as a result of a very low red blood cell count.
It is usually the first symptom of multiple myeloma, the pain associated with it can be in the form of mild pain to a severe one. It can occur at any time, even while at rest. Patients are often prescribed powerful medications, like narcotics, to lessen the bone pain. In many people, the bone damage is usually severe before one is able to notice any symptoms. The affected bones in multiple myeloma patients include the bones of the arms, legs, skull, vertebrae and rib cage. Furthermore, bone fractures may happen without a significant reason; this is most likely because of the degenerative effects of abnormal plasma cells precisely.
- Anemia: When a red blood cell count becomes unnecessarily low, a person will experience anemia because of a reduction in the amount of oxygen carried throughout the body; this is because cancerous plasma cells stand in place of the healthy blood-forming cells in the bone marrow, which also leads to the anemia development as well. Unexplained tiredness and weakness are symptoms of anemia that may occur in these patients with bone marrow disease. Additional signs and symptoms include having a very pale and “washed out” looking the color of skin and bruising easily. Patients with anemia due to bone marrow disorders may bleed more easily and profusely than other people without the disease, for example, they may experience bleeding gums, nosebleed or a very simple incident that usually would be of no concern, will result in bleeding, and it also increases blood loss. This is because, in addition to the fact that there are lesser red blood cells, the marrow also produces lesser platelets. Platelets are blood cells that stop bleeding.
- Swelling: Bone marrow disorders can lead to the swelling of internal organs in most people. The spleen, kidneys or liver may become enlarged as a reaction to the disease that is attacking the blood cells. Males with blood disorders that develop to bone marrow abnormalities may notice swelling of the testicles.
- Hyperviscosity: Hyperviscosity is the decrease in the speed of blood flow through the arteries, veins, and This is as a result of increased levels of protein in the blood, released by the abnormal plasma cells. Due to the insanely high amount of protein in the blood, a person with multiple myeloma may notice an increase in bruising, nosebleeds, cloudy vision, headaches and maybe intestinal bleeding. Kidney function may also be affected because of the excess protein in the blood. There is extra stress exerted on the kidneys’ filtration function (of blood) and proper disposal of excess salt, fluid and waste products.
- Chromosomal changes: immense blood and gene testing are carried out on people who have bone marrow disease. Some of the signs of the disease from a scientific perspective include chromosomal changes and genetic mutation in response to the syndrome. In patients with leukemia, some may present with chromosomal translocation. Blood tests may also show large amounts of duplicated white blood cells that have populated the patient’s blood in trying to fight the infection.
- High blood calcium: usually in patients with multiple myeloma, one would notice a ridiculously high level of calcium in the blood, when calcium from affected bones crosses over to the bloodstream. An increased level of calcium in the blood will result in, increased thirst and urination, confusion, constipation, loss of appetite, wanting to vomit and unexplained weight loss.
- Infection: According to the Aplastic Anaemia and MDS International Foundation, an individual with bone marrow disease is predisposed to frequent infection and, because of this get swollen glands. Patients with multiple myeloma are at a higher risk for infection because of the absence of leucocytes, which are part of the body’s line of defense against any infection. White blood cells are overcrowded by distorted plasma cells. People with multiple myeloma may have repeated infections of the following organs, bladder, kidney, and They also have the possibility of developing shingles, pneumonia or even sinusitis. Immunoglobulins also take part in fighting infection. In multiple myeloma, abnormal immunoglobulins are being produced, which as a result limits the body’s capability of fighting infection.
Bone marrow disease may be due to genetics or environmental factors. Tests for these diseases may include blood and bone marrow tests. Treatments depend on the disease and how severe it is. The doctor might prescribe a blood transfusion or a bone marrow transplant.
Many people who were lucky enough to get an early diagnosis responded well to treatment and remained free for years after treatment. In other cases, the disease becomes too aggressive and may not respond well to the available treatments. In addition, both cancer and cancer treatments (in terms of side effects) can cause life-threatening complications, like a severe infection or kidney failure. New research is continually going on as well as old ones, in developing new treatments and encouraging medications. One has to consult a doctor or a specialist about the variety of treatments available and those benefits to them. Remember that the outlook for bone marrow diseases prior to diagnosis is very much different from one person to another.
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