Special Issues for People with Aplastic Anemia

Because you have aplastic anemia, everyday events can be more risky for you than for healthy people. Here are some examples.

Airplane Travel and High Altitudes

The farther you get from Earth, the less oxygen there is. If you have aplastic anemia, flying in an airplane or going up high in the mountains may cause a shortage of oxygen. It may also cause chest pain. Changes in cabin pressure can cause bleeding inside the ear if platelets are very low. The recirculated air may increase risk of viral infection.

Before you do either of these things, it's a good idea to:

Dental Care

Brush and floss your teeth and get regular dental care to reduce the risk of infections in your mouth and throat. If a dental procedure is needed, talk with your treating physician first as you may need an antibiotic or other treatments before the procedure.

Physical Activity

Talk with your doctor about what types and amounts of physical activity are safe for you. You may want to avoid activities that cause chest pain or shortness of breath. You also may want to stay away from activities that could result in injuries and bleeding, such as contact sports.

Pregnancy and Aplastic Anemia

Pregnancy is possible for women who have been treated for aplastic anemia. But it carries some significant risks for both mother and child.

There is limited research on pregnancy and aplastic anemia. However, one study done in 2002 showed that 19 percent of women had a relapse of aplastic anemia during pregnancy. This means that their blood counts went down. Some women also needed blood transfusions during childbirth.

This study also showed that you may have an increased risk of problems during pregnancy if:

  • You have a low platelet count.
  • You also have PNH.

If you have had aplastic anemia and are pregnant or want to get pregnant, find an aplastic anemia specialist and an obstetrician (OB) who specializes in high-risk births. Every person and every pregnancy is different. Make sure you talk with the specialist about your specific case and understand all the risks.

Surgery

Surgery can also be risky for people with aplastic anemia. Surgery can cause serious bleeding in people with a low platelet count. Platelet transfusions may be needed before surgery. The risk for serious infections is also higher.

If you do have surgery, it's a good idea to make sure your aplastic anemia specialist talks with your surgeon.