By Ryan MacArthur |

Blood is something our bodies can’t live without, but how much do you really know about it?

Find out what makes up your blood, the various blood types, and how IV therapy can help with blood disorders.

What is blood made of?

Although at first glance blood may seem to be composed of a uniform red liquid, it’s a mixture of liquid and three different types of cells:

  • Plasma – a yellowish-colored liquid, consisting mostly of water with proteins, ions, nutrients, and waste mixed in. Plasma makes up 55% of the body’s total blood volume.
  • Red blood cells – these disc-shaped cells give blood its red color, carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and bring back carbon dioxide.
  • White blood cells – help the body fight infection as part of the immune system
  • Platelets – small, colorless cell fragments responsible for blood clotting

Different blood types

The eight most common blood types are  A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, AB-. Finding out a patient’s blood type and carefully cross-matching it to a donor is essential to providing the safest blood transfusion possible.

It is important to note that if a patient receives the wrong blood type during a transfusion, the body will not recognize the antigens and the patient’s immune system will attack the transfused blood.

Why blood type matters

Knowing your blood type can help you get the right transfusion as quickly as possible, should you ever need one. Although blood type “O” is considered a “universal donor”, this type is often in short supply, so informing emergency services personnel quickly if you or a loved one is able to accept another blood type can be helpful.

Like the rest of the body, your blood is not immune to diseases. Deficiencies in red or white blood cells, or platelets can cause blood disorders, which can result in severe complications.

Common blood disorders and IV therapy

Blood disorders can be acute or chronic and many of them are inherited. Other illnesses, a lack of nutrients in your diet, or even the side effects of certain medications can also cause blood disorders.

Anemia – the most common blood disorder affecting nearly a quarter of the population worldwide. Anemia occurs when you do not have enough red blood cells or when your red blood cells do no not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and hair loss. Symptoms of this blood disorder may be relieved with an iron infusion to restore a patient’s red blood cell count.

Hemophilia is genetic and one of the most well-known blood disorders. Queen Victoria was a carrier of the defective chromosome and passed it on, via her daughters, to her grandchildren. Hemophilia is the result of a deficiency in the clotting factor, meaning the blood doesn’t clot properly.

Leukemia – a type of cancer found in the blood and bone marrow from rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal white blood cells are not able to fight infection normally and impair the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets. Leukemia is often treated with IV chemotherapy.

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