Megaloblastic anemia is a lack of red blood cells in the body due to the bone marrow producing immature red blood cells with abnormal structures and too large in size. This condition is one of the rare types of anemia.
When red blood cells have an abnormal structure, the distribution of oxygen throughout the body will be disrupted. Symptoms of anemia can be recognized from complaints of feeling tired, pale, dizzy, muscle aches, and shortness of breath.
Common Causes of Megaloblastic Anemia
There are two common conditions that cause megaloblastic anemia, namely vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and vitamin B9 (folic acid) deficiency. Both of these vitamins are important components for producing healthy red blood cells.
Cobalamin deficiency or deficiency
Cobalamin or vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is found in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Poor diet can be a cause of deficiency of this vitamin, so you are more at risk of megaloblastic anemia.
Some medications can also reduce the amount of cobalamin in the body. One of them is proton pump inhibitor (proton pump inhibitors) which is used to limit gastric acid production.
Lack of folic acid intake
Folic acid (vitamin B9) is found in several foods, including beef liver, citrus fruits (oranges and lemons), and leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli. A diet low in folate can put you at higher risk of developing megaloblastic anemia.
In addition, folic acid deficiency is also possible when the body needs more folate. These conditions include pregnancy, breastfeeding, suffering from cancer or sickle cell anemia, undergoing dialysis, until the baby is born prematurely.
Cobalamin and folic acid deficiency can also occur when the absorption of vitamins is disturbed. For example, due to autoimmune conditions and celiac disease, a history of surgery on the intestine, or the presence of diseases of the intestine, such as Crohn's disease and gastrointestinal infections. Without proper treatment, these conditions can progress to megaloblastic anemia.
How to Overcome Megaloblastic Anemia
To diagnose megaloblastic anemia and determine the cause, the doctor will perform a complete blood count. After that, the doctor will provide the necessary treatment, according to the cause.
In general, your doctor will prescribe medication to treat a vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency. Treatment can be in the form of giving multivitamin supplements, either through oral drugs or injections. In addition, patients are also advised to increase their intake of vitamin B12 and folic acid.
To monitor the success of treatment, blood tests will be done again 10-14 days from the start of treatment. If treatment is successful, patients with megaloblastic anemia do not require further monitoring, unless symptoms reappear.
Megaloblastic anemia should not be ignored and treated immediately. If you experience symptoms of megaloblastic anemia as mentioned above, immediately consult a doctor to get the right treatment.