Megaloblastic Anemia - What It Is, Symptoms and Treatmentsthis condition. In additionMegaloblastic anemiais a type of anemia, a blood disease in which the number of red blood cells is less than normal. Red blood cells carry oxygen through the body. When your body does not have enough red blood cells, your tissues and organs do not get enough oxygen.
There are many types of anemia with different causes and characteristics. THEMegaloblastic anemiais characterized by red blood cells that are larger than normal. Nor are there enough. It is known as vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency anemia, or macrocytic anemia, as well.
THEMegaloblastic anemiais caused when red blood cells are not produced properly. Because the cells are very large, they may not be able to get out of the bone marrow to enter the bloodstream and provide oxygen..
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THEMegaloblastic anemiaoccurs when your body produces red blood cells that are larger than normal and you have a low red blood cell count. The most common symptom of anemia is fatigue, but the symptoms may vary from person to person. The treatment plans for theMegaloblastic anemiamay include dietary changes, oral vitamin supplements and, in some cases, vitamin B-12 injections.
Causes of Megaloblastic Anemia:The two most common causes ofMegaloblastic anemiaare deficiencies of vitamin B-12 or folate. These two nutrients are required for the production of healthy red blood cells. When you do not get enough, it affects the composition of your red blood cells. This leads to cells that do not divide and reproduce the way they should..
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency:Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient found in some foods like meat, fish, eggs and milk. Some people can not absorb enough vitamin B-12 from their food, leading toMegaloblastic anemia. THEMegaloblastic anemiacaused by vitamin B-12 deficiency is referred to as pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is most often caused by the lack of a protein in the stomach called "intrinsic factor". Without the intrinsic factor, vitamin B-12 can not be absorbed, regardless of the amount you eat. It is also possible to develop pernicious anemia because there is insufficient B-12 vitamin in your diet.
Folate deficiency:Folate is another nutrient that is important for the development of healthy red blood cells. Folate is found in foods such as beef liver, spinach and brussels sprouts. Folate is often mixed with folic acid - technically, folic acid is the artificial form of folate, found in supplements. You can also find folic acid in cereals and fortified foods..
Your diet is an important factor in ensuring that you have enough folate. Folate deficiency can also be caused by chronic alcohol abuse, as alcohol interferes with the body's ability to absorb folic acid. Pregnant women are more likely to have folate deficiency due to the high amounts of folate needed by the developing fetus.
Symptoms of Megaloblastic Anemia:The most common symptom ofMegaloblastic anemiais fatigue. Symptoms may vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:.
- Shortness of breath;
- Muscle weakness;
- Abnormal pallor of the skin;
- Glossitis (swollen tongue);
- Loss of appetite / weight loss;
- Rapid heartbeat;
- Soft or soft tongue;
- Tingling in the hands and feet;
- Numbness in the extremities.
Diagnosis of Megaloblastic Anemia:One test used to diagnose many forms of anemia is complete blood count (CBC). This test measures the different parts of your blood. Your doctor can check the number and appearance of red blood cells. They will appear larger and underdeveloped if you haveMegaloblastic anemia. Your doctor will also gather your medical history and perform a physical exam to exclude other causes of your symptoms..
Your doctor will need to do more blood tests to find out if vitamin deficiency is causing your anemia. These tests will also help them find out if it is a vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency that is causing the condition. One test your doctor can use to help diagnose you is the Schilling's test. The Schilling test is a blood test that evaluates your ability to absorb vitamin B-12.
After taking a small supplement of radioactive vitamin B-12, you will collect a urine sample for your doctor to examine. Then you will have the same radioactive supplement in combination with the "intrinsic factor" protein your body needs to absorb vitamin B-12. Then you will provide another urine sample so that it can be compared to the first one.
It's a sign that you do not produce your own intrinsic factor if the urine samples show that you just absorbed the B-12 after consuming it along with the intrinsic factor. That means you can not absorb vitamin B-12 naturally..
Treatments of Megaloblastic Anemia:For you and your doctor to treatMegaloblastic anemiadepend on the symptoms that are getting worse. Your treatment plan may also depend on your age and overall health, as well as your response to treatments and how severe the disease is. Treatment for anemia is usually underway.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency:In the case ofMegaloblastic anemiacaused by deficiency of vitamin B-12, you may need monthly injections of vitamin B-12. Oral supplements can also be given. Adding more foods with vitamin B-12 to your diet may help. Foods that have vitamin B-12 include:.
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- Fortified cereals (especially bran)
- Red meat (especially meat)
Some individuals have a genetic mutation in the MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene. This MTHFR gene is responsible for the conversion of certain B vitamins, including B-12 and folate, into their usable forms within the body. Individuals with the MTHFR mutation are recommended to take supplemental methylcobalamin. Regular intake of foods rich in vitamin B-12, vitamins or fortifications is not likely to prevent deficiencies or health consequences in those with this genetic mutation..
Folate deficiency:THEMegaloblastic anemiacaused by lack of folate can be treated with oral or intravenous folic acid supplements. Changes in diet also help increase folate levels. Foods to include in your diet include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Enriched grains
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As with vitamin B-12, individuals with the MTHFR mutation are encouraged to take methylfolate to avoid folate deficiency and its risks..
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