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Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency – Causes and Symptoms of G6PD Deficiency

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an inherited disorder. It is a condition in which the body doesn’t possess sufficient amount of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase that helps in the normal functioning of red blood cells. The deficiency of G6PD, hence, causes hemolytic anemia. Symptoms of G6PD may or may not occur. If symptoms do develop, anemic symptoms are observed. In some cases, G6PD deficiency may lead to chronic anemic condition.

Causes of Glucose-6 Phosphate Deficiency
G6PD deficiency is caused when an individual does not have sufficient enzyme called G6PD in the body. Generally, the red blood cells can function efficiently only in the presence of this enzyme. But if this enzyme is not sufficient, the red blood cells cannot work properly and get destroyed. This destruction of red blood cells is also known as hemolysis.

The factors that cause destruction of red blood cells Include:

  • Emotional factors like stress
  • Infections
  • Certain foods
  • Certain medications like sulfa drugs, quinine, quinidine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nitrofurantoin, aspirin and antimalarial drugs
  • Chemicals such as naphthalene balls may also develop the condition

Research studies revealed that Blacks are more prone to G6PD deficiency than Whites. Even men are more commonly affected by the deficiency.

The following are the risk factors of developing G6PD deficiency:

  • Male
  • Family history of G6PD deficiency
  • Middle east descent, particularly Sephardic or Kurdish Jewish
  • African American

Another mild form of the disorder is associated with short episodes of hemolysis. But these episodes are very severe. It is common in Whites of Mediterranean descent.

Symptoms of Glucose-6 Phosphate Deficiency
Symptoms of G6PD deficiency do not develop in the earlier stages of condition. The signs and symptoms develop only after destruction of red blood cells. Symptoms only develop in men and include:

  • Enlarged spleen
  • Dark urine
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Skin color changes to yellow (jaundice)

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