When an Ohio resident went to the doctor with what he thought was an infected bug bite that wouldn’t go away, the last thing he expected was to be admitted to the ER and scheduled an urgent appointment with an oncologist. The harmless 'bug bite' turned out to be something a lot more serious, a truly dreaded diagnosis - leukemia.
This man was Mike Balla, a 46-year-old, who got a small bump on his foot that he first thought was a mosquito or spider bite when he first noticed it in August of 2018. Some time has passed, but the bump hadn't diminished at all. On the contrary, it got bigger and looked inflamed, so Mr. Balla went to his physician, who, like Balla, suspected an infected bite and prescribed an antibiotic to treat the infection.
The antibiotic didn’t help, so the puzzled doctor prescribed a stronger antibiotic, which didn’t yield the expected relief either. That's when Balla was admitted to the emergency room, and the blood tests revealed that the lump was actually a symptom of acute myeloid leukemia, a rare, yet very dangerous type of cancer.
This type of cancer affects the blood and bone marrow. Abnormal blood cells affected by the cancer build up in the vessels and bone marrow, interfering with normal blood circulation. Acute myeloid leukemia is characterized by rapid growth and demands urgent treatment. Typically, this type of leukemia doesn’t express itself in skin growths, the most widespread symptoms being the following:
- Increased susceptibility to infections
- Shortness of breath
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bone and joint pain.
At first, he couldn’t believe the diagnosis and thought the doctors confused him for someone else, but a subsequent confirmation by an oncologist followed. Immediately, Balla has undergone chemotherapy, and a subsequent bone marrow transplant as well.
Cleveland Clinic, where the man was treated, reported that he is currently in remission, and today, Balla took upon himself to raise awareness about health, especially among men, urging everyone to undergo preventative checks on a regular basis. “The hour it takes to go get a checkup could help prevent months of health problems,” Bella points out.
So remember, a bug bite that lingers for more than a week or two is a concern that requires medical attention, as it’s likely not a bug bite at all. Similarly, something that looks like a minor symptom that continues for a long time or any unusual symptoms, too, may point to a greater problem.