The blood is a bodily fluid made up of living tissue, traveling all over the body through a comprehensive network of blood vessels.
The blood has both liquid and solid parts. The liquid part, which accounts for more than half of the blood, is called the plasma, which is made up of a mixture of water, protein, and salts. The solid part, on the other hand, is made up of red and white blood cells as well as platelets. These cells are constantly produced by the bone marrow to replenish the body’s supply as old cells die. Red blood cells live for an estimated 120 days while white blood cells live for only a day, on average. Platelets, on the other hand, live for around six days.
The blood plays several key functions, including the following:
- It delivers nutrients to the cells in the body.
- It is responsible for removing metabolic waste from cells.
- The red blood cells are responsible for delivering oxygen from the lungs to all organs and tissues in the body.
- The white blood cells are responsible for defending the body against infection.
- The platelets are responsible for making blood clots in response to a wound or cut.
Common Blood-Related Problems/Conditions
Hemorrhage – This occurs when blood leaks out of the blood vessels. It can occur either externally, such as blood coming from an open wound, or internally, which can be caused by trauma.
Leukemia – Leukemia is a form of blood cancer in which the white blood cells multiply more rapidly than they should. This condition can damage the tissues of the body and may be life-threatening.
Anemia – Anemia refers to a condition in which the patient’s red blood cell count is too low, placing the organs at risk of not getting sufficient oxygen. Thus, the condition often causes shortness of breath and fatigue.
Hemophilia – This is a problem that affects blood clotting proteins found in the platelets. Without enough of these proteins, blood may not be able to clot properly and may lead to uncontrolled bleeding.
Common Blood-Related Procedures and Surgeries
Blood transfusion – A blood transfusion is performed when a patient suffers from blood loss or excessive bleeding and the body is unable to naturally replace the lost blood.
Platelet transfusion – Some health problems may cause the body’s platelet count to drop too low, a condition that is potentially life-threatening. In such cases, platelets from donor blood are separated and are used to restore the patient’s platelet count to normal levels.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is used to treat cancers of the blood. This involves consuming medications designed to destroy cancerous cells.
Bone marrow biopsy – This is an important diagnostic procedure wherein a patient’s bone marrow is extracted so that further testing can be performed. It involves inserting a thick needle into a bone, usually the large one in the hip, to access the bone marrow inside it and get samples for further examination.