Bruises result from a damaged or broken blood vessel due to a skin injury. Once these blood vessels are injured, the blood leaks into the surrounding tissue, causing a bruise. However, bruising can sometimes occur without a reason. Can anemia be the cause?
Does Anemia Cause Bruising?
Yes, anemia can cause bruising. Unexplained bruising is common for a certain type of anemia, known as aplastic anemia. Aplastic anemia is a medical condition characterized by not only a low count of red blood cells but low white blood cells and platelets as well. When the platelets count is lower than normal, the blood clotting process is impaired, often leading to excessive bleeding and bruising.
Other signs and symptoms of aplastic anemia include:
- Pale skin
- Skin rash
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid and irregular heartbeat
- Bleeding gums
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts, etc.
Aplastic anemia has a slow progression over a couple of weeks and months. Sometimes, it may come on suddenly and even be life-threatening. Aplastic anemia may also become chronic.
What Causes Aplastic Anemia?
Does anemia cause bruising? Yes especially with aplastic anemia. There are two types of aplastic anemia:
Acquired Aplastic Anemia
Acquired aplastic anemia is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a destruction of the blood cells from the immune system. It can start at any age, affecting both men and women. In about 75% of the cases, acquired aplastic anemia is idiopathic, meaning that the real cause is not known. However, other possible causes of acquired aplastic anemia include:
- Radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer treatment
- Infectious diseases such as cytomegalovirus or HIV
- Treatments for other autoimmune diseases
- Pregnancy, etc.
Hereditary Aplastic Anemia
Hereditary aplastic anemia is a genetic condition which is inherited from parents. This type of aplastic anemia is less common than acquired aplastic anemia, usually being diagnosed during childhood. Certain inherited medical conditions which can lead to aplastic anemia include:
- Dyskeratosis congenita
- Fanconi anemia
- Diamond-Blackfan anemia
- Shwachman-Diamond syndrome
Another type of hereditary aplastic anemia is the one diagnosed among adults. This newly discovered type of hereditary aplastic anemia is caused by a shortening of the telomeres, the ends of chromosomes. Special tests are required for the diagnosis of this type of aplastic anemia.
How to Treat Aplastic Anemia
Does anemia cause bruising? Yes. Whenever aplastic anemia is diagnosed as the cause of bruising, regardless if it is hereditary or acquired, proper treatment is necessary in order to control the bruising. The following treatments are available for aplastic anemia.
1. Blood Transfusions
In order to relieve the symptoms of aplastic anemia and to control bleeding, blood transfusions are often necessary. It is good to know that blood transfusions are not a cure for this type of anemia. Blood transfusions provide only a temporary relief of its signs. Transfusion usually includes platelets or red blood cells. A transfusion of red blood cells increases the count of red blood cells in the blood, while a transfusion of platelets helps prevent excessive bleeding.
In general, there is no limit when it comes to the number of blood transfusions a person can have. However, a blood transfusion has its own possible side effects and complications. With multiple transfusions of red blood cells, an iron accumulation in the human body occurs, damaging the vital organs. Moreover, the human body may develop antibodies against red blood cells, which will make them less effective. Regular use of immune suppressants will prevent this complication.
2. Stem Cell Transplant
In cases of severe aplastic anemia, stem cell transplantation is the only treatment available which can be successful. Stem cell transplantation is commonly known as bone marrow transplantation. This treatment is more suitable for young and healthy patients. A matching donor is required, usually being a sibling.
Just like any other treatment, stem cell transplantation has its own risks and possible complications. There is always the chance of the body rejecting the transplant, which results in life-threatening complications.
3. Immune Suppressants
Immune suppressant medications are necessary for those patients who can’t undergo bone marrow transplantation and for those whose aplastic anemia is caused by autoimmune disorders. Immune suppressant medications tend to suppress the activity of the immune system, which will help the bone marrow to recover faster and generate new blood cells. Once these medications are stopped, there is a possibility that aplastic anemia returns.
4. Bone Marrow Stimulants
Certain types of medications such as epoetin alfa, filgrastim, etc. may help stimulate the bone marrow to produce new blood cells.
5. Antibiotics and Antivirals
Aplastic anemia will make your immune system weak. This means that your organism will be more prone to various bacterial and viral infections. For this reason, various antibiotics and antivirals are often prescribed by your doctor.
6. Other Treatments
Does anemia cause bruising? Yes. If aplastic anemia is due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer treatment, once this treatment is completed, anemia improves.
If pregnancy is the cause of aplastic anemia, once it ends, the anemia improves. If no improvement is seen after the pregnancy terminates, other medications are necessary.