Definition and Overview
Haematology is a branch of medicine and a subspecialty of internal medicine. It focuses on the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases that can cause abnormalities in the blood and its various components, which include the blood cells, blood proteins, hemoglobin, platelets, and blood vessels, as well as the organs that are responsible for producing blood, namely the bone marrow and the spleen.
Doctors who specialize in this branch of medicine are called haematologists, who have received two to three years of specialized training in haematology after they completed their medical degree, internship, and residency.
The routine responsibilities of a haematologist include:
- Treating patients with haematological diseases
- Analyzing blood samples in the haematology laboratory, which involves viewing blood films and bone marrow slides
- Interpreting the results of blood tests and blood clotting tests
- Providing a diagnosis to patients showing symptoms of blood disorders
- Determining the specific causes of blood disorders
- Monitoring patients' progress while undergoing treatment
- Supervising blood banks
- Conducting research
In treating patients, haematologist can:
- Perform blood transfusions
- Add blood components
- Reduce or remove blood components
- Prescribe immunosuppressive drugs
- Carry out chemotherapy
- Perform stem cell transplantation
- Perform bone marrow transplantation
- Prescribe growth factor drugs
When should you see a Haematologist?
Patients should see a haematologist if they are diagnosed with any of the blood disorders listed below:
- Anemia – This is one of the most common types of blood disorders that comes in over 400 different types. Generally, anemia occurs when the blood lacks healthy red blood cells or its main component, hemoglobin. Some of the most common presentations of the disease include:
- Sickle cell anemia, or when the red blood cells are harder and stickier than normal
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
- Anemia due to trauma i, or when the condition occurs due to excessive blood loss
- Thalassemia, or when red blood cells do not mature properly
Hemolytic anemia, or when the body produces red blood cells that are too fragile and ruptures prematurely
Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), or when the blood vessels are not fully developed
- Hemochromatosis, or when the body absorbs excessive amounts of iron
- Polycythemia, or when the body produces an excessive amount of red blood cells
- Bleeding or blood coagulation disorders
- Hemophilia, or the blood's inability to clot properly
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Von Willebrand disease
- Vitamin K deficiency bleeding, which commonly affects infants
- Blood cancers
For the treatment of blood cancers, the patient's treatment team will include both a haematologist and an oncologist.
These disorders may cause symptoms such as:
- Easy bruising
- Excessive bleeding
- Delayed clotting
- Unexplained and very frequent nosebleeds
- Menorrhagia, or heavy menstrual periods that go on longer than normal
There are various possible causes of blood disorders. Some of them are inherited diseases, whereas others, such as cancer, are acquired.
Many blood disorders can cause serious health risks and can even lead to fatal results when left untreated. Clotting disorders, for one, can cause blood obstructions and related complications, such as pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, or medical emergencies such as stroke and a heart attack. They may also cause excessive, uncontrollable bleeding after a patient suffers from an injury, making the condition more serious and dangerous than when it affects an otherwise healthy individual. In fact, these disorders can make even minor cuts, dental procedures, or even vaccinations dangerous for the patients.
Haematologists can help prolong the life of his patients by treating or even preventing blood disorders and their complications. They can also provide long-term care and management for patients who have chronic blood disorders.
- The American Society of Hematology