Megaloblastic Anemia and Patient Education

Description of Megaloblastic Anemia

Megaloblastic Anemia

Megaloblastic anemia is a category of anemia that falls under the category of Macrocytic anemia. Anemia means “without blood” in its literal translation and applies to many different forms of a blood disorder. Anemia in general is one of the most common blood disorders and is found in people all over the world, all different ages and backgrounds. Megaloblastic anemia refers to a specific lack of B12 and or folic acid in the body, which is a step further than other forms of anemia that deal with a deficiency of iron. This is the most common type of Macrocytic anemia and has the problem of red blood cells that are larger than normal rather than a lack of red blood cells, which is the basis of many other types of anemia. Megaloblastic anemia is a rare blood disorder and is believed to be genetic, meaning that the condition exists at birth and continues throughout the individual’s life.

Symptoms of Megaloblastic Anemia

There are several symptoms of Megaloblastic anemia that differ from other forms of anemia, although some are similar. Symptoms that are unique to Megaloblastic anemia are loss of appetite, diarrhea, tingling or numbness in feet and hands, headaches, sore mouth and tongue, pale skin color or a significant change in skin color. The more usual symptoms associated with anemia such as feeling tired or weak a lot of the time is also present in Megaloblastic anemia. Because of the lack of B12 there can also be neurological symptoms like an abnormal reflex and decreased senses in other diagnostic tests.

There are several tests that are used to accurately diagnose Megaloblastic anemia. It is definitely necessary to have a complete blood count done, as it is with testing for any form of anemia, but in the case of Megaloblastic anemia the blood count test will reveal the abnormally large red blood cells. Once a complete blood count is done and it is determined that Megaloblastic anemia is a possibility, it is then necessary to have a bone marrow examination, which unfortunately is not one of the most comfortable tests, but in this case it is imperative to diagnose the type of anemia correctly so that effective treatment can be prescribed. Other tests would include; a serum B12 test, serum folate test and a Schilling test, which can determine if there is an inadequate absorption rate of B12 that is causing the B12 deficiency.

Treatment of Megaloblastic Anemia

The good news is that treatment is generally very effective once the type of anemia is accurately identified. Treatment depends most on what the underlying cause of Megaloblastic anemia is for each patient. If it is a lack of adequate amounts of B12 then supplements through vitamins, drops or even shots may be used as well as a diet rich in B12 foods. If the problem is related more to an issue with absorption than other measures can be taken to increase the body’s ability to absorb B12 or folic acid more effectively.

Diet for Megaloblastic Anemia

Obviously foods rich in B12 and folic acid are a good measure for anyone to practice in their daily diet as it is part of healthy eating habits. Foods that contain a lot of B12 and folic acid are; beef liver, chicken giblets, kidney, egg yolks, beans, split peas, spinach, sweet potato, broccoli, brussel sprouts, whole grain breads, asparagus, bananas, cabbage, oranges and peaches. Combining some of these foods into a daily diet will certainly increase the amount of B12 and folic acid, thus reducing the severity of Megaloblastic anemia or possibly even eliminating it altogether.

Complications of Megaloblastic Anemia

Anemia can be complicated by other conditions that exist within a body. One common example of a complication is pregnancy. Women that are anemic, regardless of the specific type will definitely experience more symptoms and face more complications due to the pregnancy. This is mainly because the body of a woman is more depleted of nutrients during the nine months she carries a baby than when she is not, so it is even more important to be aware of a Megaloblastic anemia condition and treat it effectively. Of course other illnesses can also complicate anemia so it is always crucial to inform doctors of any preexisting conditions.

Conclusion of Megaloblastic Anemia

In conclusion, Megaloblastic anemia is one of the odd blood disorders found in the Macrocytic category of anemia. Diagnosis is essential to proper and effective treatment so be sure to consult a physician if experiencing symptoms of Megaloblastic anemia.

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