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Blood

Megaloblastic anemia

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Definition

Megaloblastic anemia is a blood disorder in which there is anemia with larger-than-normal red blood cells.

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

Alternative Names

Anemia - megaloblastic

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Megaloblastic anemia is usually caused by a deficiency of folic acid or vitamin B12.

Other less common causes are:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Certain inherited disorders
  • Drugs that affect DNA, such as chemotherapy drugs
  • Leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Myelofibrosis
  • The anticonvulsant drug dilantin

Risk factors relate to the causes.

See also:

  • Anemia - B12 deficiency
  • Folate-deficiency anemia
  • Pernicious anemia

Symptoms

See:

  • Anemia - B12 deficiency
  • Folate-deficiency anemia
  • Pernicious anemia

Signs and tests

For testing information, see:

  • Anemia - B12 deficiency
  • Folate-deficiency anemia
  • Pernicious anemia

Treatment

The first goal is to diagnose the cause of the anemia. The treatment depends on the cause. Anemias related to specific vitamin deficiencies are discussed separately.

See:

  • Anemia - B12 deficiency
  • Folate-deficiency anemia
  • Pernicious anemia

References

Antony AC. Megoblastic anemias. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 39.

Kaferie J, Strzoda CE. Evaluation of macrocytosis. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79:203-208.

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