ANEMIA, FOLIC-ACID DEFICIENCY(Megaloblastic Anemia)
ANEMIA, FOLIC-ACID DEFICIENCY
DESCRIPTIONFolic-acid anemia is a deficiency in the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. It affects the blood cells, which transport oxygen to all body parts. Folic-acid anemia affects both sexes, especially infants and adolescents.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFatigue and weakness.
Red, sore tongue.
Shortness of breath.
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
CAUSESComplication of pregnancy, when the body needs 8 times more folic acid than usual.
Inadequate intake or absorption of foods with a high folic acid content, such as meat, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, eggs, green vegetables, yeast, and mushrooms.
Overcooking foods, which destroys folic acid.
Deficiency of vitamin B-12 or vitamin C.
Illness, such as tropical sprue, psoriasis, acne rosacea, eczema or dermatitis herpetiformis.
Fad diets or general poor nutrition, especially vitamin C deficiency.
Surgical removal of the stomach.
Smoking, which decreases vitamin C absorption. Vitamin C is necessary for folic-acid absorption.
Use of certain drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-convulsants, methotrexate, or triamterene.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEAdvice for your child or adolescent:
Don't drink alcohol.
Eat well. Include fresh vegetables, meat, and other animal proteins. Avoid fad diets. Don't overcook food.
Don't smoke. Smoking increases vitamin requirements.
Have regular medical checkups during pregnancy. Take prenatal vitamin supplements, if they are prescribed.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies.
Increased susceptibility to infection.
Congestive heart failure.
Usually curable in 3 weeks with an adequate folic-acid intake.
If your adolescent smokes, it is important to stop.
If your daughter takes oral contraceptives, she should consider using another form of contraception.
Your child's mouth should be kept scrupulously clean by using mild or diluted mouthwash and a soft toothbrush.
MEDICATIONFolic-acid supplements. Have the child continue taking them after symptoms improve.
Iron supplements to take orally.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. The child should eat foods daily that are high in folic acid. The liver can store folic acid for a limited time only.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of anemia.
Symptoms don't improve in 2 weeks despite treatment.
Symptoms of infection (fever, chills, and muscle aches) occur during treatment.