Doctors first take a person's medical history (ask about symptoms Symptoms of Blood Disorders Blood disorders can cause various symptoms in almost any area of the body. Most commonly, symptoms are caused by decreases in the blood components. Decreased red blood cells and hemoglobin can... read more , occupational or other exposures, and family information). Then they do a physical examination. The findings from the history and physical examination help doctors decide what laboratory tests Laboratory Tests for Blood Disorders Doctors select tests to help diagnose blood disorders based on the person's symptoms and the results of the physical examination. Sometimes a blood disorder causes no symptoms but is discovered... read more may be needed.
Doctors may suspect a blood disorder based on a vast number of possible symptoms. In addition, certain factors in a person's medical history indicate that the person is at risk. Some examples include the following:
A blood disorder in a member of the person's family
Another disorder (such as kidney or liver disease Overview of Liver Disease Liver disease can manifest in many different ways. Characteristic manifestations include Jaundice (a yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes) Cholestasis (reduction or stoppage... read more ) that can cause a blood disorder
A person's ethnicity or race (for example, sickle cell disease Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease is an inherited genetic abnormality of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells) characterized by sickle (crescent)-shaped red blood cells and chronic... read more occurs mainly in blacks)
Use of a drug that may cause bleeding (such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or warfarin)
Exposures (for example, an occupational exposure) to a chemical that could cause bleeding or damage the bone marrow
During the physical examination, doctors look for specific physical findings that can be related to a blood disorder.
They examine the skin and mucous membranes (such as the inner surface of the eyelids or the mouth), looking for paleness, abnormal blood vessels (telangiectasias Spider Veins Spider veins are small, enlarged veins that are visible under the skin. (See also Overview of the Venous System.) Spider veins (also called telangiectasia) are small veins that become enlarged... read more ), bruises, small red or purple spots, or red rashes.
They feel the neck, underarm, and groin areas for enlargement of lymph nodes.
They examine the joints to see if they are tender or swollen.
They examine the abdomen, feeling for enlargement of the spleen or liver.
They do a rectal examination to check the stool for blood.
The findings from the history and physical examination help doctors decide what laboratory tests Laboratory Tests for Blood Disorders Doctors select tests to help diagnose blood disorders based on the person's symptoms and the results of the physical examination. Sometimes a blood disorder causes no symptoms but is discovered... read more may be needed.