There are several different types of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), but all of them involve the inability of bone marrow to produce enough healthy blood cells. Also known as bone marrow failure disorder, MDS is a type of cancer that is more common in men over 65 years old but can develop with anyone at any age. This rare group of hematological disorders affects each person differently depending on the type and severity. Although there are no true early signs of MDS, you should look for symptoms in the beginning stage. Proven cures for MDS are limited, but treatment can help reduce the intensity of symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about 10 symptoms and treatments of Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
The first sign of MDS is an overwhelming tiredness. If you cannot shake this feeling, even after getting a good night’s sleep, then you might have an underlying health issue. It’s understandable to not get enough rest at times because of a stressful job or busy family, but you should not feel exhausted each and every day. If chronic fatigue follows you around, you should call your doctor instead of taking another nap. Unfortunately, this symptom of MDS is a common sign of other ailments, so you may have to do some searching to pinpoint the actual problem.
If you develop MDS, you will most likely become anemic, too. Anemia occurs when there is a decrease in a number of red blood cells. Paleness is one of the most obvious symptoms of anemia and, therefore, MDS. Take a look at your nail beds. Are they visibly light and pale for no apparent reason? Pay attention to your skin and mucosa lining for pallor as well. An unusual pastiness, especially when you have not been in a cold atmosphere could be a symptom of MDS.
Some cases of MDS cause bone marrow to lack platelets. This condition, which is known as thrombocytopenia, causes an individual to bleed not only easily, but ceaselessly as well. Without a sufficient amount of platelets, the blood has a difficult time clotting. A person with thrombocytopenia, and certain types of MDS, has a count below 150,000 platelets per micro-liter of blood.
Petechiae and Bruises
Tiny, red-purple spots that appear on your skin in random clusters is known as petechiae. Myelodysplastic Syndrome can cause petechiae and bruises. Even if you don’t bang your knee on the edge of something, you might notice that you are bruising easier than usual. These marks show up after minor, internal bleeding takes place because of broken capillaries or vessels. Because the bone marrow already has a low platelet count then frequent internal bleeding can occur just as must as it does externally.
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Like with the other items on this list, this symptom of Myelodysplastic Syndrome has to do with have a lower-than-normal platelet count. Certain types of MDS may cause a heavier blood flow. If the patient is already anemic, she can feel extra tired during that time of the month, too, due to excessive blood loss. Usually, these problems are disregarded as typical gynecological issues, but they might actually be a cause of poor blood clotting brought on by MDS.
Dyspnoea or Shortness of Breath
Did you know red blood cells carry oxygen? If you jog up a flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator only to find yourself catching your breath then you might be more than out of shape. People with MDS suffer from dyspnoea, or shortness of breath, especially during exercise or any physical activity. Since the bone marrow is producing abnormal cells, the oxygen cannot be properly disturbed and used. As a result, you may experience breathing difficulties. Talk to your doctor about it if you have this symptom of Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
Do you get sick a lot? People with MDS have an abnormally low concentration of neutrophils, a white blood cell that is supposed to protect the body from infections. You will continue to feel under the weather time and time again because your body does not have enough of this infection-fighting element. From viral to bacterial infections, you might deal with stomach bugs, ENT throat problems, and other health ailments. Instead of blaming allergies, maybe you should get checked for Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
Depending on the severity and type of Myelodysplastic Syndrome you have, a doctor might recommend a blood transfusion. This is considered a low-intensity treatment compared to others. A blood transfusion is common and safe within the medical field. Although it comes with some risks, a blood transfusion can help if you have a low blood count due to MDS. After multiple transfusions, a therapy known as iron chelation can help remove the mineral from your blood if there is too much present.
Your doctor might monitor your blood count and request regular checkups. However, if it drops too low, you might have to undergo chemotherapy. It is also considered a low-intensity treatment for Myelodysplastic Syndrome. This same method is also used for people with leukemia. Besides chemotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy is a treatment for MDS that deals with trying to stop your immune system from destroying the bone marrow.
Stem Cell Transplant
A stem cell transplant is the only Myelodysplastic Syndrome treatment that will actually cure it. The procedure is considered a high-intensity treatment and involves a series of radiation or chemotherapy sessions. After destroying the abnormal bone marrow cells, you need a donor for stem cells. For the transplant, you can use stem cells from blood or bone marrow. The transplanted cells will begin to grow new, healthy blood cells.