Bone Marrow Suppression

Bone Marrow Suppression: Overview

Alternative Names: Myelosuppression

Bone Marrow Suppression is a reduction in the activity of the bone marrow, which is the thick liquid inside some of the bones that produces blood cells.  The result is a reduction in red blood cells (which carry oxygen), white blood cells (which fight infection), and/or platelets (which control bleeding).

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Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of bone marrow suppression depend on the type(s) of blood cell deficiency.

Reduced red blood cells produce classic anemia symptoms:

Reduced white blood cells produce classic symptoms of a weak immune system:

  • fever and chills
  • rash
  • diarrhea
  • signs of infection (swelling, redness, areas painful or warm to the touch)

Reduced platelets produce classic excess bleeding symptoms:

  • easy bruising
  • bleeding: nose bleeds, or bleeding gums or mouth
  • tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • blood in the urine
  • dark or black bowel movements

Treatment and Prevention

Aside from specific medications aimed at stimulating the bone marrow, the following advice should be followed if possible:

  • avoid strenuous activity
  • avoid forceful blowing of the nose
  • avoid foods with hard, rough or sharp surfaces
  • avoid uncooked foods, which can transmit bacteria
  • avoid alcohol
  • avoid shaving
  • avoid people with contagious diseases
  • increase protein consumption
  • use a non-alcohol-based mouthwash
  • drink plenty of water
  • reduce infection risk by treating and covering all wounds
  • wash hands frequently

Complications

Bone marrow suppression can lead to anemia, fatigue, infection, and bleeding.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Bone Marrow Suppression:

Lab Values - Cells

Low lymphocyte count

Lymphocytes are made in the bone marrow, so when the bone marrow isn't functioning properly, lymphocyte counts can drop.

Conditions that suggest Bone Marrow Suppression:

Circulation

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Risk factors for Bone Marrow Suppression:

Drug Side-Effect

Chemotherapy Side-Effects

Nearly all chemotherapy cause a short-term reduction in bone marrow function.

Bone Marrow Suppression can lead to:

Circulation

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