Anaemia is a blood disorder in which the number of red blood cells is lower than what is required for the body to function properly. RBCs play a vital role in transporting oxygen through the body. Every single tissue and cell in the body needs a constant supply of oxygen to work efficiently. These cells and tissues send oxygen to the lungs and lungs in turn with help of millions of tiny air sacs called alveoli pass enough oxygen into the bloodstream. When the body doesn’t have enough RBCs, the organs get deprived of ample oxygen leading to severe health anomalies. One of the ailments it can trigger besides many others is Megaloblastic Anaemia. It is a form of anaemia or a blood disorder that happens due to an impaired DNA synthesis leading to inhibition of nuclear division. When bone marrow starts to produce abnormally large blood cells, the inner of each cell is not fully developed. This leads to bone marrow to produce fewer cells, and most of the times these cells die earlier than their normal life expectancy.

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Megaloblastic anemia

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Causes Of Megaloblastic Anaemia

Primarily, Folate and Vitamin B12 are two most common deficiencies that cause Megaloblastic Anaemia. These two nutrients play a crucial role in producing healthy RBCs. When the body does not get enough of them, it affects the makeup of RBCs and either body does not produce them, or they are abnormal which causes this health problem. Not naturally found in any plant-based products, sources of B12 are limited which makes this deficiency common in people following a vegetarian diet plan. Besides certain types of diseases like Crohn’s disease, worm infestation or surgeries including bariatric surgery, gastritis, gastric bypass surgery can also result in body’s inability to absorb Vitamin B12. Folate deficiency also causes Megaloblastic Anaemia. Generally, folate deficiency happens in pregnant women as they need extra folate for foetus development. People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol are also folate deficient.

Read More: Pernicious Anaemia: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Difference Between Megaloblastic and Pernicious Anaemia

Vitamin B12 deficiency also causes a close linked health problem called Pernicious Anaemia. The key difference between Megaloblastic and Pernicious Anaemia is that in Megaloblastic Anaemia, red blood cells are larger than the normal size while Pernicious Anaemia is an autoimmune condition arising due to the lack of a protein in the stomach also called as intrinsic factor. Without intrinsic factor, Vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed, regardless of its consumption. While Vitamin B12 deficiency is responsible for both megaloblastic and pernicious anaemia, Megaloblastic Anaemia is a type of macrocytic anaemia which occurs because of the obstruction in the synthesis of DNA during red blood cell production. In addition, deficiency of micronutrients like copper is also known to be a reason of Megaloblastic Anaemia. In both form of the ailment, body tissues and organs get deprived of ample oxygen supply.

Symptoms Of Megaloblastic Anaemia

While the symptoms of this ailment can vary from individual to individual, patients with this condition will experience the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chest pain or angina
  • Infertility in both males and females
  • Palpitation in the heart
  • A bright red swollen tongue
  • Tingling or numbness or both in the hands and feet

Diagnosis And Treatment

Treatment for this Megaloblastic Anaemia depends on the cause, analysis and diagnosis depending on health, age and severity of the disease as well as underlying condition and the response to treatment. To diagnose it, mostly doctors recommend a routine blood count and a peripheral blood smear test specifically meant to examine RBC, WBC and the platelets. The test depicts large and immature erythrocytes, known as megaloblasts, ovalocytes and hyper segmented neutrophils. Reduction in B12 serum levels will further confirm the diagnosis.


Deficiency being primary cause of Megaloblastic Anaemia, treatment for this illness is an ongoing process. Folate deficiency may be treated with oral or intravenous folic acid supplements. Dietary changes also help boost folate levels. If Megaloblastic Anaemia caused by Vitamin B12 deficiency, Vitamin B12 may be injected, or supplements may be recommended. While diet and lifestyle changes are recommended by physicians, but intake of Vitamin B12-rich foods, or fortified products may not be able to prevent deficiency in patients with genetic mutation.