What Is G6PD Deficiency?

Glucose- 6- phosphate dehydrogenase is an inherited condition that affects the red blood cells and can cause hemolytic anaemia.
Hemolytic anaemia is when red blood cells produced inside the bone marrow are destroyed rapidly than usual.
It is more common in men than women. The gene associated with the condition is located on the X chromosome of which males have only one. They inherit one copy of the defective gene from either parents instead of two. It is most prevalent in Africa, Asia, Mediterranean and middle east.
The deficiency cause increased hemolysis which result in hemolytic anaemia. It interferes with the ability of the red blood cells to transport oxygen to organs and tissues. This causes weakness, fatigue, yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice) and shortness of breath.
G6PD may be triggered by infections, certain medications and food. Once the underlying cause is resolved, symptoms disappear within few weeks.



    • Rapid heart rate
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dark or yellow-orange urine
    • Fever
    • Fatigue and weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Paleness
    • Jaundice – G6PD deficiency is one of the commonest cause of severe jaundice in newborns.
    • Confusion
    • Enlarged spleen




Genetic– It is passed down from parents to their offspring. G6PD is characterized by an enzyme defect due to a mutated G6PD gene. The G6PD gene provides instructions for making the G6PD enzyme, which helps protect red blood cells from damage and destruction. The enzyme also helps the body to process and use glucose from carbohydrates. It is needed to help turn carbohydrates into energy.


  • Males
  • African- American
  • Those with a family history of the condition
  • Infections
  • Taking certain drugs or medications that causes the destruction of RBCs
  • Taking certain foods e.g fava beans.



  • Treatment includes removing what triggers the symptoms
  • Treat underlying infections
  • Discontinue medications that destroys RBCs
  • Avoid foods that cause serious reactions
  • If progressed to hemolytic anaemia, you need to be admitted into a health facility. Treatment includes oxygen therapy, blood transfusion to replenish oxygen and red blood cells levels.



  • Anti-malarial drugs
  • Aspirin
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs)
  • Sulfa drugs and products, any drug that has “sulf” in the name must be avoided
  • Quinine
  • Brinzolamide
  • Sulfadimidine
  • Furazolidone
  • Dimercaprol
  • Naphthalene(not a drug but should be avoided)



  • Fava beans and all other legumes
  • Blue berries
  • All sources of soy
  • Foods high in vitamin. C e.g citrus fruits and drinks that contain synthetic vitamin c and vitamin c supplements
  • Menthol
  • Foods with artificial blue dye
  • Tonic water.



  1. Avoid eating foods containing dyes, addictive and difficult to digest ingredients.
  2. Consume lots of bitter foods to help nourish the spleen; probiotic yoghurt, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, bright orange colored foods.
  3. Get proteins, iron and fats from: eggs, poultry, and grass fed beef, organ meat, coconut and olive oil.
  4. Get enough sleep and rest
  5. Manage stress because it weakens the immune system and make symptoms of hemolytic anaemia worse.
  6. Exercise


Janet Agyeman,  RM

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