DYSCRASIA: HOW MEDICAL CONTEXT HAS CHANGED OVER TIME
Dyscrasia, according to Merriam Webster, can be defined as a condition of the body which is abnormal, specifically about blood. As time has passed and we have transitioned from the ancient to the modern period, the use of the term dyscrasia has become occasional in the medical context.
The term dyscrasia was first used by Greek physician Galen. Health, in ancient times, has been viewed as a balance or harmony among bodily fluids or four humors: phlegm, blood, yellow and black bile. These humors have been believed to exist in the human body. Any disproportion or imbalance in any of these fluids in the body was interpreted as a disease.
Over time, dyscrasia’s definition has been shaped into what modern doctors refer to as ‘any unspecified disorder in the body’. The most prevalent concept of dyscrasia in the medical context is that of ‘Blood Dyscrasia’. This refers to the presence of any abnormal matter in the blood which may affect blood cells or platelets.
The medical term, Blood Dyscrasia literally translates to “bad mixture”. Any blood-related disorder or disease may be referred to as Blood Dyscrasia or Bleeding Dyscrasia. They affect plasma component of the blood, bone marrow, and sometimes the lymph tissue. Some examples of blood dyscrasias are cancers like leukemia and lymphomas; anemia etc.
Symptoms of blood dyscrasia may vary from person to person, body to body. However, the symptoms may revolve around the excess or deficiency of several blood cells or their interaction and excess build-up with lymph nodes or spleen.
- When there is a reduction in the level of white blood cells or fighter cells, the body is prone to infections and diseases. Some indications may include: shortness of breath, coughing out blood, sinus pain, frequent or painful urination, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, etc.
- Low hemoglobin, absence of red blood cells (anemia), etc. may lead to rapid heartbeat, palpitations, and pale skin, etc.
- A reduction in the level of platelets may cause bruising on the body, nosebleeds, bleeding from the bladder, heavy menstruation, etc.
Causes of blood dyscrasia may not always be known. The term idiopathic is used by medical experts to refer to the uncertainty of the source of dyscrasia. Causes of dyscrasia and risk factors may sometimes overlap.
- Cancer: Cancers like leukemia or several myelomas lead to many problems affecting each blood cell. Cancerous cells crowd the bone marrow which restricts the growth of blood cells.
- Drug Reactions: Drugs that elicit strong reactions can be a huge contributor to blood dyscrasia.
- Environmental factors: Being exposed to certain chemicals and radiations may result in blood dyscrasia.
- Genetics: Specific gene mutations or hereditary predisposition may make a body vulnerable to such disorders.
The diagnosis of dyscrasia requires a number of steps depending on different factors like family history, symptoms, etc. In a sophisticated manner, hematology deals with these big chunks of problems. Disease definition and dyscrasias are not specific. Treatments which provide benefit and reduce blood clotting are vital. Diagnosing and treating such a rare disorder takes time and it is important to be patient during the treatment.