When you have the rare but treatable disorder known as aplastic anemia, your marrow -- the spongy substance inside your bones -- stops making new blood cells. Sometimes it stops making just one type, but more often you become low on all three: red and white cells, and platelets.
It can develop slowly or come on suddenly. If your blood count gets low enough, it can be life-threatening.
September is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month, and for actor Larenz Tate, that means spreading the word about a chronic disease that disproportionately affects the African-American community.
"It's really important to know if you carry the disease," says Tate, 36, who recently costarred on FX's Rescue Me and in BET's made-for-TV movie Gun Hill, which premieres this fall.
As many as 100,000 people in the United States have the disease, which causes red blood cells to resemble sickles or crescents...
Anyone can get aplastic anemia, but it's more likely to happen to people in their late teens and early 20s, and the elderly. Males and females have about an equal chance of getting it. It is more common in developing countries.
There are two different types:
acquired aplastic anemia
inherited aplastic anemia
Doctors will check to determine which you have.
Inherited aplastic anemia is causes by gene defects, and is most common in children and young adults. If you have this type, there is a higher chance of developing leukemia and other cancers, so see a specialist regularly.
Acquired aplastic anemia is more common in adults. Researchers believe something triggers problems in the immune system. The possibilities include: