Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase is a hereditary condition also known as Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. This is a condition where red blood cells are broken down when stress infection occurs or when the body is exposed to certain drugs.
There are different causes of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. In most cases, it occurs when a person doesn’t have the enzyme that is responsible for ensuring that red blood cells are in their proper working condition. If red blood cells are not functioning normally, the condition will occur.
When there is little Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase in the system, destruction of red blood cells will occur. When destruction of the cells occurs or hemolysis, it can cause a brief episode leading to a severe condition.
The good thing is that the body produces red blood cells continually. This is a step that helps to ensure that the cells have a normal activity despite a hemolysis episode. However, it is essential to ensure that red blood cell destruction does not occur. Red blood cell destruction can occur as a result
- Taking certain foods including fava beans
- Bacterial infections
- Severe stress
- Certain medications including aspirin, antimalarial drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nitrofurantoin, quinidine and sulfa drugs
- Certain chemicals can also destroy red blood cells including chemicals found in mothballs
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency in the US affects more blacks than whites. Additionally, men are more prone to the disorder than women. Other people who are at risk of the disorder include
- People with African American origins
- Those of middle Eastern decent and more specifically Sephardic Jewish and Kurdish
- Males are also prone to the condition and
- People with a family history of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency
Research also shows that there is another form of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. The form is closely associated to regular hemolysis episodes and it affects whites of Mediterranean descent. Episodes of the form of the disorder are however longer than episodes of the real condition.
Symptoms of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency
Symptoms of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase can differ from one patient to the other. Even so, there are common symptoms of the condition and they include
- Passing of dark urine
- Enlargement of the spleen
- Shortness of breath that can last for minutes
- Rapid heart rate and
- Yellow skin color also known as jaundice
It is also important to note that it can be hard to tell whether a person is suffering from Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase or other related illnesses. However, when you or someone around you has the mentioned symptoms, it is essential to go for medical tests. A test can be done to check the level of G6PD in the body through a G6PD screen. Other tests include checking the level of
- Hemoglobin in the blood
- Hemoglobin in urine
- Haptoglobin level
- Bilirubin level
- IDU test
- LDH test
- Reticulocyte count and
- Met-hemoglobin test
Treatment of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency
There are different treatment options for the deficiency and they include
- Medicines to treat any infection
- Transfusions to ensure a balanced level of hemoglobin
- Stopping any use of drugs that can be destroying red blood cells in the body
These treatment options have been proven highly effective. Patients witness a spontaneous recovery from hemolytic episode after a short span of time. However, if left untreated, the disorder can cause kidney failure and even death in the event of severe hemolytic event. Complications are also rare.
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