6 Symptoms of Hematologic Disease

Hematologic diseases are disorders that occur when your blood and the organs that produce it are not working correctly. Blood is made up of living tissue formed from solids and liquids. Plasma, a liquid containing protein, water, and salts, makes up over half. The rest comes from a solid made up of platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. Blood disorders may be chronic or acute, as well as inherited or acquired. They may also be caused by a lack of certain nutrients, by the effects of medications, or by other diseases.

Blood diseases include clotting or breathing problems; platelet disorders; anemia; blood cancers, such as leukemia and myeloma; venous thrombosis, and eosinophilic disorders, which are related to one type of white blood cell. HIV-related illnesses, sickle-cell disease, complications from chemotherapy, and some genetic disorders are also hematologic illnesses. These conditions affect the peripheral and central nervous systems.

Hematologists are medical doctors who have been trained to diagnose and treat blood disorders. They usually recommend laboratory tests based on symptoms or results from a physical examination, but some blood disorders are accidentally discovered during routine tests or while testing for other illnesses. A doctor who suspects a disorder usually orders a complete blood count, or CBC, to make a specific diagnosis.

1. Fatigue

Fatigue is defined as tiredness that will not go away and interferes with daily activities, causing a constant, debilitating lack of energy. It’s normal to feel tired when you are recovering from the flu or you have stayed up all night studying for exams, but you should not wake up feeling that way every day, especially if you are getting enough sleep at night. Exhaustion can be a result of illnesses like anemia, depression, fibromyalgia, and allergic rhinitis.

Although other blood disorders can cause fatigue, anemia is usually the culprit. Anemia comes from having too few red blood cells and is especially common among women of childbearing age. Anemia may come from other illnesses, such as stomach problems; hemorrhoids; diabetes; cancer; or a deficiency of folic acid, B12, or iron. Taking NSAIDS like ibuprofen or naproxen may also cause anemia if they cause the stomach to bleed.

If you have anemia, your doctor will test to see what is causing it. If the cause is a deficiency in iron, you will probably be told to take iron supplements or eat a diet that is rich in iron. Foods with a lot of iron include broccoli, spinach, and red meat. Adding vitamin C to your diet usually makes it easier for your body to absorb the iron you need, and it reduces your fatigue.

2. Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath usually occurs when the heart and lungs are unable to take oxygen to the tissues and remove the carbon dioxide, usually because of heart failure or heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning, pneumonia, asthma, blood clots, or blocked airways. Chronic problems are more likely to be caused by asthma, lung disease, obesity, or heart problems. If you have a low red blood cell count, you may feel dizzy and breathless, especially when you stand up suddenly. You may also have cold feet and hands, pale skin, and chest pain. Although anemia is the most common blood-related cause, more serious blood disorders like leukemia may also cause shortness of breath.

3. Trouble Concentrating

An inability to pay attention has a wide range of causes, ranging from stress to serious illness. Usually, it is temporary and goes away on its own, but it can be chronic. When the lack of concentration is related to blood disorders, it is most often caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain. Cells in the brain, if fact, start to die in less than five minutes if the supply of oxygen disappears. This condition, known as hypoxia, can quickly cause brain damage or death. If you suspect a problem, you can have a lab test to measure the level of oxygen in your blood.

4. Muscle Weakness

Although muscle weakness can have many causes, the most common brain-related cause is the lack of oxygen to the tissues. Symptoms range from mild to severe with mild symptoms causing the arms and legs to feel heavy or floppy. More serious symptoms cause the muscles to feel tight and stiff, and injuries to the brain can affect the communication pathways that allow a person to control movement. Depending on the injury, one or both sides of the body can be affected, as well as the alignment of the neck and spine. Physical therapy can sometimes help with posture and strengthen muscles or keep them from getting weaker.

5. Fast Heartbeat

The medical name for a rapid heartbeat is tachycardia. Although it is normal for the heart to beat faster during a period of stress or physical exertion, it usually returns to normal afterward. There are many causes for a fast heartbeat, but one of the most common is the lack of oxygen to the heart. Anemia is caused by a lack of red blood cells that distribute oxygen throughout the body. That means your heart must work harder, making you more susceptible to irregular heartbeats or cardiovascular problems. If you have a rapid heartbeat, the doctor may suggest an ECG or other tests to get a better look at your heart.

6. Unexplained Weight Loss

Unexplained weight loss can be caused by hematologic disorders, especially leukemia and other blood cancers. Around 40 percent of people diagnosed with cancer say they have had unexplained weight loss, and 80 percent of those with advanced cancer report weight loss and muscle wasting. Anemia rarely causes weight loss, but it can cause weight gain. Researchers do not fully understand its cause, but weight fluctuations in people who have anemia may be related to iron supplements or by the lack of activity resulting from fatigue. You should see a doctor if you have rapid, unexplained weight loss, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms.