Aplastic Anemia Medication

Drug therapy is also used to treat aplastic anemia, and the two most common types of drugs used are immunosuppressive drugs and growth factors.

Immunosuppressive

Typically, one or more immunosuppressive drugs such as antilymphocyte globulin (ALG), antithymocyte globulin (ATG) and cyclosporine, are used to treat aplastic anemia patients. Although the connection is not well understood, one possible cause of aplastic anemia is an immune system that is working against itself. A common strategy with severe aplastic anemia patients is to administer ATG and cyclosporine until a stem cell transplant can be performed.

Growth Factors

Hematopoietic growth factors are products of the new genetic engineering. These are copies of substances which occur naturally in the human body, but produced in larger quantities in the laboratory. These drugs, such as granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and cytokines, may help stimulate the bone marrow to produce new blood cells - especially white blood cells. Growth factors may work well in combination with each other or with immune-suppressing drugs to relieve the signs and symptoms of aplastic anemia. However, the safety of long-term use of growth factors is unknown.

Antibiotics

Having aplastic anemia weakens your immune system. You have fewer white blood cells in circulation to fight off germs. This leaves you susceptible to all kinds of infections - everything from colds to more-serious illnesses.

Because of their extremely short life span, white cells cannot be effectively replaced by a transfusion. Therefore, control of infection depends on prompt, appropriate intravenous antibiotic therapy as soon as fever or other signs of infection appear.

At the first sign of infection, such as a fever, see your doctor for treatment. You don't want the infection to become severe, which could prove life-threatening. If you have severe aplastic anemia, your doctor may give you antibiotics to help prevent infections.

Find out more about: Bone Marrow Transplantation for Aplastic Anemia

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