What Is A Blood Smear?
A blood smear is a spreading of a sample of blood which is then diagnosed and analyzed to check for abnormalities in the blood. Blood smear tests are generally performed under a microscope and check for unusual shapes, sizes, patterns and count of the blood cells. Such abnormalities can affect the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and are caused by abnormalities in proteins or deficiency of minerals and vitamins in the blood.
Causes Of Having A Blood Smear Test :
Blood smear tests may be conducted as a general health examination procedure. Doctors may also deem it necessary to carry out a blood smear test if they suspect one of the following blood disorders:
- Cancer in the blood
- Leukemia, specifically hairy cell type
- To monitor side effects of other therapy such as chemotherapy
Symptoms of Blood cell Diseases :
- Sudden jaundice which is otherwise unexplained
- Sudden and unexplained anemia
- Abnormally easy bruising of the skin
- Flu and other common disorders persisting over their natural course
- Unexpected and sudden weight loss
- Infections including parasitic infections and skin rashes
- Pain in the bones
Signs of Blood cell Diseases :
- Anemia caused by the deficiency of iron or sickle cell
- Infection of the digestive system known as hemolytic uremic syndrome
- Leukemia and other white blood cell disorders
- Infection by parasites and fungi
- Disorders affecting the blood platelets and clotting
- Other diseases including liver and kidney diseases and hypothyroidism
The blood smear test is a relatively simple procedure which is carried out by a phlebotomist. A tourniquet is tied above the required area and a sterilized injection needle is used to draw blood directly from a vein. The needle provides for a sharp pain, which subsides as soon as the blood is drawn. It is a low risk procedure with some minor risks including dizziness, soreness, infection, slight pain and bruising of the area. After the blood has been drawn, patients are required to apply pressure on the area for a few moments. A bandage will then be added to the area. The sample is then analyzed extensively in the laboratory to check for any blood disorders present.
Diagnosis of the Disorders :
Once the blood smear test has been carried out, the results are checked to be either normal or abnormal. Normal results include normal appearance of cells and normal differential count of cells. Abnormal results mean there are irregularities in either the shape or count of cells and are graded on a four point scale depending on the percentage of affected blood cells.
Prognosis of Diseases :
Blood smear tests may reveal many different types of disorders. Depending on the type, the prognosis for diseases varies. While lower risk infections and diseases have a fairly positive outlook, people with dangerous disorders such as sickle cell anemia and fault with white blood cells have a dramatically lower life expectancy. Some disorders can even be easily remedied just by changing the diet or by adding required supplements. The blood smear test is essential to determine what the disease is and this in turn will reveal the outlook for the patient and life expectancy. Based on the grading of the abnormality of the blood smear test, a lower grade has a more positive outlook than a higher grade.
Prevention of Blood Cell Diseases :
There is no general method to prevent blood smear test disorders. The problems and disorders may be hereditary or may have been acquired. Infections should be avoided and good hygiene must always be maintained. Blood smear tests may be carried out as a part of a general medical check-up examination and is considered a low risk procedure. People should have blood smear tests taken so that any disorders affecting the blood can be found out at the earliest and necessary steps can be taken. Blood disorders can prove to have dire consequences and may even result in death.
Types of Diseases :
Many different types of disorders may be diagnosed by blood smear tests and they include :
- Anemia, including sickle cell anemia
- Lead poisoning
- Infection including hepatitis C
- Other fungal, viral and bacterial infections
- Multiple myeloma
- COPD, emphysema and other pulmonary disorders
- Pediatric cell disorders
- Thrombocytopenia and other platelet disorders
- Disorders in the lymph of the blood
- Bleeding excessively
- Fainting at the sight of blood also known as vasovagal syncope
- Easy bruising or hematoma
- Light headedness and dizziness
- Accumulation of blood under the skin
Home Remedies :
Home remedies exist for different types of diseases confirmed by the blood smear test. Most of these however, include maintaining a healthier diet and lifestyle. Known relief remedies for many of the disorders include avoiding exposing the body to extremities and taking good care of hygiene. Some of the other well-known remedies include:
- High intake of water
- Healthy diet
- Supplements of iron and folic acid
- Regular exercise
- Avoiding infections
- Cessation of smoking
Once a blood smear test has been carried out and diseases diagnosed, treatment of blood smear diseases includes treatment of the underlying diseases found.
Some Additional Tests May Be Required After A Blood Smear test, which include :
- G6PD assay test
- Bone marrow biopsy
- Complete blood count test
- Hemoglobin variant tests
- Absolute count test for lymphocytes
- Skin test for delayed hypersensitivity
Some Important Things To Remember Before Taking A Blood Smear Test :
- It is essential to disclose all prescription and non-prescription medication to the doctor.
- All dietary supplements and vitamins that are taken must also be disclosed.
- Test results can be affected by anticoagulants. These include atromentin, acenocoumarol and warfarin.
- Presence of disorders such as hemophilia will affect the blood smear test.
- Regular blood transfusions will affect the blood smear test.
- Presence of blood cancer will produce abnormalities in the blood smear test.
- Any known medical conditions should be disclosed to doctors in order to avoid diagnostic errors.