You may not have symptoms if MDS is in early stages. But, they will appear as the disease worsens.

If you do have any of these, do not think it is because of MDS. Other, less serious conditions can cause these problems. But, you should still talk to your doctor about them. Finding and treating the cause early will improve the chances for a cure.

Common Symptoms

MDS symptoms are mainly related to the low numbers of a certain blood cell type. Each blood cell has a certain function in the body. If they are not in a normal range, it may cause problems.

Low Numbers of Red Blood Cells

A drop in the number of normal red blood cells is called anemia. This lowers the amount of oxygen reaching the body's tissues. This can lead to:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fast heart beat
  • Trouble breathng
  • Headache
  • Mood changes

Low Numbers of White Blood Cells

A drop in the number of normal white blood cells makes it harder for the body to fight infection and may lead to:

  • Lasting fever that is not caused by a health condition
  • Frequent infections
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Slow healing of minor cuts

Low Numbers of Platelets

A drop in the number of normal platelets makes it harder for blood to clot. If the blood does not clot, even small injuries can lead to severe bleeding. Problems may include:

  • Bleeding or bruising easily
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tiny red spots under the skin
  • Heavy monthly periods

General information about myelodysplastic syndromes. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated June 14, 2018. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated October 15, 2018. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Merck Manual Professional Version website Available at: Updated December 2018. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Signs and symptoms of myeloysplastic syndromes. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Updated January 22, 2018. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Understanding MDS. MDS Foundation website. Available at: Accessed March 14, 2019.

Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 3/14/2019