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What Is Megaloblastic Anemia?

Aug 18, 2007
Megaloblastic anemia, also called Pernicious Anemia is a rare blood disorder in which the body does not absorb enough vitamin B12, which results in an insufficient amount of red blood cells in the bloodstream. This blood disorder is more common in northern Europeans than in other population groups.

Deficiencies of folic acid and vitamin B12 are usually among the causes of this disease. Other causes are leukemia, myelofibrosis, multiple myeloma, hereditary disorders, drugs such as chemotherapy drugs that affect DNA synthesis and alcohol abuse. Megaloblastic anemia is also associated with type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease.

These are the most common symptoms for megaloblastic anemia. Remember that, each individual experience symptoms differently:

Pale or change in skin color

decreased appetite

diarrhea

difficulty walking

headaches

increased heart rate (tachycardia)

irritability

lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue)

nausea numbness or tingling in hands and feet

sore mouth and tongue

tiredness

weak muscles

weight loss

These symptoms of megaloblastic anemia may resemble other medical problems, therefore always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Megaloblastic anemia is discovered usually during a medical examination during a routine blood test. A diagnosis usually follows a complete medical history and physical examination, and may include additional blood tests, a bone marrow examination and a test called the Schilling test, which checks vitamin B12 absorption. During this test, the lab technician measures vitamin B12 levels in the urine after the patient ingested radioactive vitamin B12. With normal absorption, the ileum, a portion of the small intestine, absorbs more vitamin B12 than the body needs and releases excess vitamin B12 into the urine. When the patient has Megaloblastic anemia however, little or no vitamin B12 is released into the urine.

Treatment for the condition will depend on the cause, which will be determined by the tests. Treatment usually includes vitamin B tablets or injections and Iron tablets or some form of supplement. It is important to remember to not take iron and vitaming B supplements together with calcium supplements, as the two don't absorb well together. If calcium supplements are taken, take calcium in the morning, and vitamin B and iron at night.

Foods that are rich in folic acid include the following: asparagus, barley beans, broccoli, chick peas, (garbanzo beans) green, leafy vegetables, lentils, liver, orange juice, oranges, peanuts, peas, rice, romaine lettuce, soy beans, spinach, sprouts, wheat germ,

Foods that are rich in folic acid and vitamin B12 include the following: eggs, fortified cereals, meat, milk, poultry, shellfish.

Diet could help with the treatment of the disease, but will not fix it without supplements.
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