What are Blood Disorders?

A blood disorder is a disorder in which the cells that make up the blood or the proteins in the blood clotting system or the immune system are not functioning properly. In order to discover if you have a blood disorder, a laboratory test or many tests will be ordered.

Sometimes an examination of the bone marrow is necessary because the bone marrow is where the blood cells are manufactured.

Blood Disorder Symptoms

There are certain groups of symptoms that a person may display that can clue a doctor to the fact that a blood disorder may be the cause of an illness. When the group of symptoms point to a decrease in red blood cells the blood disorder is more than likely an anemia blood disorder. When the symptoms involve a reduced number of platelets than the blood disorder may be thrombocytopenia.

If the individual presents with weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath the doctor may explore the possibility of anemia but if the person also has a fever or infection of some type the doctor may explore the blood to see if there are two few white blood cells which may indicate a white blood cell disorder.

Individuals who experience confusion, headaches, shortness of breath and dizziness may have an increased amount of red or white blood cells such as when polycythemia is present or multiple myeloma.

Other groups of symptoms may express the possibility of disorders of the substances or factors of the blood such as the ability of the blood to clot or when the body forms abnormal blood clots. These blood disorders manifest themselves when the body either produces abnormal factors or when the body is using up the factors too quickly resulting in the inability of the body to function.

Diagnosis

Blood disorders are not always easy to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague. Almost always the way to diagnose a blood disorder is to run laboratory tests on blood samples from the patient. Blood tests are relatively simple to obtain and can tell so much about what is happening in the different parts of the body including the organs of the body.

The most commonly used laboratory blood test to diagnose blood disorder is the complete blood count (CBC) which is an evaluation of all of the cellular components of blood including red and white blood cells, and platelets. It is important to not only count the number of cells in the blood but to ascertain the shape of the cells. Abnormal shapes may indicate diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia and other anemia blood disorders.

Other blood tests used to diagnose blood disorders include the reticulocyte count that is used to count the number of young red blood cells. This count tells the doctor what the capacity of the bone marrow is to make new red blood cells. There are also clotting tests, proteins and other substances that can be tested for, blood typing and specialized testing to check for blood volume, to check for clotting factors or to test the functioning capacity of platelets.