Favism

Favism

What is Favism?

Favism, full name of which is Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (referred to as G6PD) Deficiency, is a common recessively inherited condition in Hong Kong.  The majority of patients are males. 
G6PD is an enzyme that protects red blood cells and prevents them from being damaged.  In normal circumstances, patients with G6PD Deficiency do not have any symptoms. However, due to the congenital lack of G6PD in the patient's red blood cells, stimulation by foreign oxides, such as the intake of fava beans or certain medicines, will possibly cause damage and breakdown of red blood cells in a short time, as well as producing bilirubin and overloading the liver.

If a newborn baby with G6PD Deficiency is severely stimulated by incoming oxides, it can result in severe jaundice. If left untreated, the amount of bilirubin may become excessive and accumulate in the brain of the newborn baby, causing permanent damage including hearing loss, mental retardation, muscle spasm, or even death. However, common G6PD patients are no different from ordinary people, the situation of acute haemolysis can be prevented by avoiding exposure to certain triggers always, and there is no need to worry too much.



What are the daily precautions for patients with G6PD Deficiency?

G6PD Deficiency is a congenital inherited condition that has no cure at the moment.  Once diagnosed with G6PD Deficiency, it is necessary to pay attention in daily life to the following in order to avoid haemolysis:                                                       

1.  Check the ingredients when taking western medicines

Certain drugs containing Aspirin, including Antipyretics, antibiotics (such as Nitrofurantoin, Nalidixic acid), Antimalarials (such as Primaquine) and Antispasmodics (such as Phenazopyridine), etc., cannot be taken casually.
Other drugs may also contain trigger factors, so consult a doctor before taking them.

2.  Avoid taking Chinese medicine without prescription

Avoid Rhizoma Coptidis (Huang Lien), Flos Lonicerae (Kam Ngan Fa), Flos Chimonanthi Praecocis (Leh Mei Hua), Calculus Bovis (Neu Huang) and Margaritas, as well as proprietary Chinese medicines containing these ingredients, such as Bo Ying Compound.  In addition, due to the varying ingredients and formulas of different proprietary Chinese medicines, it is better to avoid feeding them to babies and consult a doctor for professional advice.

3.  No fava beans or their products

Always pay attention to food labels, and do not consume products containing fava bean ingredients such as mixed beans and glass noodles.

4.  Avoid contact with naphthalene-containing products

Both mothballs and insect-repellent tablets contain naphthalene, which is the main factor inducing symptoms of G6PD Deficiency. Parents should pay attention to whether these ingredients are present at home or on the clothes of babies, and even their own clothes should be handled with care.

5.  State the family medical history

Pregnant women must inform medical staff of their family medical history.  To ensure proper medication, patients with G6PD Deficiency should tell their doctors the past record of the disease. 
 
6.  Precautions for breastfeeding 

If a baby is diagnosed with G6PD Deficiency, the mother should pay attention to the following when breastfeeding: Firstly, if medication is required due to illness, please inform the doctor of the situation so that he/she can prescribe the appropriate medicine. Secondly, avoid consumption of fava beans and its products.


What are the symptoms of G6PD Deficient patients?

Patients often show symptoms of jaundice such as brown-colored urine, pale look, and yellowing of the whites of the eyes.  In severe cases, red blood cells are damaged and lost more quickly than the production of new ones. Any failure to replenish red blood cells in time will cause acute or severe anemia.

However, the severity of the symptoms depends on the degree of G6PD Deficiency and the dose of the oxides (e.g. certain drugs or chemicals) that stimulate the reaction.  Symptoms may vary according to the age of patients - children and adults may look pale, tired, and have difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat; newborn babies may show loss of appetite or lethargy.

If parents/ family members/ the patient notice the above conditions, please seek medical advice immediately to avoid delay in diagnosis and treatment.







Last Updated : May 2019

Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.

Favism

 

 

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Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.
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