Bone marrow is a spongy or soft gelatinous tissue present inside the tough, hard bones such as hip and thigh bones. Both the types of bone marrow, red and yellow are essential for our survival. Any infection or disease affecting the functional effectiveness of the bone marrow may be fatal.
What does my bone marrow do for me?
Your bone marrow can generate billions of new blood cells every day. Red bone marrow consists of hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the production of blood cells. The types of blood cells produced by the bone marrow and their functions include:
- Red Blood Cells (RBCs) transfer the oxygen from lungs to the body.
- White Blood Cells (WBCs) fight infections by producing different types of antibodies and chemicals.
- Platelets play an important role in the clotting of blood to prevent loss of blood.
Mesenchymal stem cells which are predominantly found in yellow bone marrow produce the non-blood cell components of the marrow. These non-blood cell components include fat, cartilage, fibrous connective tissue, and stromal cells.
What stimulates bone marrow functioning?
Bone marrow is triggered for the additional production of blood cells due to certain conditions such as low oxygen content in the body tissue, loss of blood or anemia, or drop in the levels of RBCs. A hormone known as erythropoietin which is produced and released by the kidneys, stimulate the bone marrow to produce more RBCs.
Production of WBC is stimulated due to the presence of infections, and platelets due to bleeding. The yellow bone marrow can be activated and transformed into red bone marrow in serious blood loss conditions.
When does my bone marrow get affected?
The bone marrow disorders such as plasma cell disorders, myeloproliferative disorders (MPD), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), iron deficiency anemia, lymphomas, and erythropoietin-deficiency anemia can affect the function of bone marrow. Undergoing radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy for conditions such as cancer can also cause bone marrow failure.
What happens to me if I lost all of it?
If your bone marrow disappears, the outcome can even be death. This happens either due to infection or severe blood loss. If there is no bone marrow, there will be no production of blood cells (no new RBCs, platelets or WBCs are produced). The life span of the existing RBCs is 120 days, platelets is eight days, and WBCs is one day. If no new cells are produced after the death of WBCs, you may be at a high risk for infections that may potentially turn fatal.
You may also bleed to death once the platelets count drops low enough. Even minor cuts may result in extreme blood loss and even death. As your RBCs count drops, you may be experiencing the side effects associated with low oxygen levels such as shortness of breath, restlessness, fatigue, and headaches.
The bone marrow is a vital component of the body and responsible for generating many types of blood cells. Loss of the bone marrow can be detrimental to the quality and span of life of the individual.