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What Is Anisocytosis?

Red blood cells are usually uniform in size.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 August 2014
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Anisocytosis refers to abnormality in red blood cell size. This typically means that blood tested would show blood cells of varying sizes instead of all them appearing relatively uniform. The condition tends to be more a symptom of other diseases, though outward symptoms of the illness usually are similar, no matter the cause. Treatment, on the other hand, can be different, depending on causal factors.

There are many different illnesses or medical conditions that may result in anisocytosis. Many of these are anemic conditions, which affect red blood cell production. Some varying anemic illnesses that may cause variation in blood cell size include sideroblastic anemia, congenital dyserythropoietic anemia, congenital forms of anemia, and thalassemia. Certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies may also affect the way red blood cells are produced, and people with iron, vitamin B12 or vitamin A deficiency can get this change in blood cell size.

Other circumstances might be responsible for causing this condition. Sometimes people get it after they have a blood transfusion. If the transfused red blood cells are smaller or larger than those of the person receiving the transfusion, anisocytosis may result, but is usually temporary.

When people have anisocytosis, they may have a variety of symptoms. The most obvious of these can be tiredness or exhaustion. People may also get breathless easily. Some folks also suffer from pounding or rapid heartbeat.

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The three symptoms above principally arise from the fact that the size differences of red blood cells mean oxygen is carried with less efficiency to the body’s tissues. Other symptoms reflect this poorer oxygen carrying ability too. People may have notable paleness of the skin, eyeballs, and nail beds. It’s observable that many of these symptoms are identical to a number of forms of anemia symptoms, or to conditions like heart failure. Presence of symptoms like these are always indication to see a physician for treatment.

As previously mentioned, treatment is highly individualized to underlying condition causing anisocytosis. Basic anemia that results in unusual differences in red blood cell size might be treated with iron supplementation. A vitamin deficiency would be corrected with the appropriate vitamin in supplement form. The degree to which anisocytosis is treatable depends fully on its cause. With severe illnesses that are incurable, eliminating red blood cell size differences may be impossible.

Anisocytosis usually suggests problems with the body’s ability to produce red blood cells of fairly uniform size. It may be a condition that remains a challenge or that is easy to treat. The treatment almost always depends on underlying cause and thus, a huge range of potential treatment outcomes exist because causes are so profuse. The illness does need medical attention because it is important to help the red blood cells more efficiently carry oxygen as quickly as possible to improve patient health.

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