Understanding Hematology and Blood Disease Symptoms
Hematology is the study of diseases related to the blood, including diagnosis, pathology, treatment, prevention, and prognosis. There are a variety of diseases under the hematology umbrella—including anemia, bleeding disorders (hemophilia, blood clots, Von Willebrand disease), and blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma).
The blood is made up of different components, and different diseases of the blood are associated with these different components.
Red blood cells transport fresh oxygen throughout your body. They are created in the bone marrow and have a typical lifespan of about four months.
Red blood cell disorders include:
What is Anemia?
Patients with anemia do not have enough red blood cells for oxygen to travel throughout the body. There are several types of anemia, ranging in timespan and severity, and different things may cause the disease. According to Mayo Clinic, general symptoms of anemia may include:
Unlike anemia and thalassemia, polycythemia, a rare blood disorder, manifests in the presence of too many red blood cells. This restricts blood flow because the blood becomes too thick. In primary polycythemia, the increased red blood cell count is biological due to something in the patient’s body, but in secondary polycythemia, oxygen cannot easily make its way through the body due to other causes like smoking or congenital heart disease. Polycythemia shares some symptoms with other red blood diseases, including fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, and dizziness; according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, additional symptoms may include:
Deep reddish-purple coloring
Low blood sugar
Itchiness, notably after a warm bath/shower
Numbness/tingling/burning/weakness in the hands/feet/arms/legs
Although they only constitute a small part of the overall composition of the blood, white blood cells are important because they defend the body from viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing culprits. Like their red counterparts, white blood cells are also made in the bone marrow, but they only have a lifespan of one to three days. White blood cells include monocytes, lymphocytes, neutrophils, basophils, and eosinophils.
White blood cell disorders include
Lymphoma is classified by two main types: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (previously called Hodgkin’s disease) have abnormal growth in their lymphatic system cells. Hodgkin’s lymphoma symptoms may include:
Swelling (but no pain) in the lymph nodes of the neck/armpits/groin
Unexplained weight loss
Alcohol sensitivity, or lymph node pain after alcohol consumption
In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is more common that Hodgkin’s lymphoma, tumors manifest from lymphocytes. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma shares many symptoms with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including swollen lymph nodes without pain, fatigue, fever, night sweats, and unexplained weight loss; additional symptoms may include abdominal pain or swelling and chest pain, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Journal of Phlebology and Lymphology