What Are Blood Disorders?
Blood is an incredibly important and vital fluid in the cardiovascular system of the human body. Without good blood flow, composition, and function, the human body cannot thrive or even survive. Even a temporary block of blood to a certain part of the body can lead to catastrophic results. It is important to know about blood and the most common blood disorders that may affect you or someone in your family.
Common blood conditions include:
- Blood Cancers
- Bleeding disorders
- Blood clots
If you have or suspect you have a condition relating to your blood, speaking with a trusted medical professional is the first step. Find a qualified physician or specialist (hematologist) to help determine if something is amiss and to support you in creating a plan of action.
What Is Hematology
Hematology (hemato – blood, ology – the study of) is the study of blood as it relates to health and disease, and includes red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, blood vessels, etc. It examines the relationship between blood and other areas of the body including bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, and clotting proteins. A hematologist is a medical professional who specializes in the knowledge and treatment of blood conditions.
About Human Blood
Blood is a unique bodily fluid that is made up of four main components: red blood cells, plasma, platelets, and white blood cells. It has many important functions including the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues and organs throughout your body, fighting off infection with antibodies, carrying waste products to the kidneys and liver, and helping to regulate body temperature. Following are the more specified functions of each blood component:
Red Blood Cells (Erythrocytes)
Red blood cells are the most abundant cell in your bloodstream, making up around 40-45% of its volume. These cells first form in your bone marrow with the help of a hormone called erythropoietin, which is produced by your kidneys. They are extremely malleable which enables them to fit through many types of spaces and blood vessels, veins, and arteries. The average red blood cell lives for about 120 days.
The main job of red blood cells is to transport oxygen from the lungs throughout the rest of the body. They do this with the help of a special protein called hemoglobin, which transports the oxygen and then return to the lungs with carbon dioxide to be exhaled. The hemoglobin is also what gives them their red color.
The liquid portion of blood is called plasma. Plasma is made up of mostly water, sugar, fat, protein and salts. The main job of plasma is to act as a liquid transportation system for everything that flows through your bloodstream. This may include red and white blood cells, nutrients, proteins, waste, platelets, hormones, clotting proteins, etc.
Platelets are small fragments of cells that help the blood clotting process. When you have an injury, platelets gather in large number to create a platform in which blood coagulation can occur, sealing any wounds and preventing excessive blood loss. This formation is known as a fibrin clot.
A healthy balance of platelets in the bloodstream helps to prevent excessive bleeding. Too much can lead to unnecessary clotting, which may cause a stroke or heart attack.
White Blood Cells (Leukocytes)
There are several different types of white blood cells, including neutrophils and lymphocytes. The main task of white blood cells is to destroy pathogens that enter the bloodstream and prevent infection. White blood cells have a short lifespan only about 24 hours and must be regenerated daily by the bone marrow. White blood cells make antibodies (special proteins) which target harmful bacteria, viruses, and other foreign or unknown substances in the body.
Interesting Facts About Blood
- Your body manufactures 17 million red blood cells per second on average and can produce up to 119 million per second in dangerous situations.
- It takes 20-60 seconds for a single drop of blood to travel from your heart, throughout your body, and back to your heart.
- The most common blood type is O Positive
- The least common blood type is AB negative
- Most adults contain approximately 1.325 gallons of blood or 7-8% of a person’s total weight
- Your blood is about 55% plasma, 40% red blood cells, 4% platelets, and 1% white blood cells
- It’s common for someone to have 0.2 milligrams of the element Gold in their body, mostly found in the bloodstream
You can learn moe about different types of blood conditions and the work of hematologists by visiting www.hematology.org.