What is Macrocytosis?

This is a medical term that is used to describe larger than normal or insufficient red blood cells. It is also known as megaloblastic anemia. If your red blood cells are not viable, or useable, it could lead to a deficiency in oxygen throughout your entire body and over time it may cause some symptoms that can be related to your organ systems.

Macrocytosis Symptoms

The symptoms of this medical condition can vary from severe to mild. There are usually no symptoms when a person has a mild case of macrocytosis.

If a person has a moderate case of macrocytosis, they may have the following symptoms, which are anemia related:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Neurological symptoms like depression, numbness, or confusion
  • Digestion problems

Some of the common symptoms that may be associated with macrocytosis include:

  • Gums that bleed
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Pallor or pale skin
  • Tongue that is swollen
  • Being short of breath

A person with macrocytosis may experience these symptoms on a daily basis or every once in a while. These symptoms can become severe at any time. If macrocytosis is not treated it could cause complications neurological related, which could become permanent.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, they could indicate a condition that is serious and you should get medical care promptly. These symptoms can include:

  • Depression that is moderate to severe
  • Not being able to stay balanced
  • Dementia
  • Tingling or numbness in your legs or arms


  • The usual cause of macrocytosis is the result of deficiency problems with folate or vitamin B12. These nutrients are necessary for the formation of your red blood cells. These deficiencies may happen because of damage to your digestive system which can interfere with the absorption of folate and vitamin B12 that is efficient.
  • A person could also have pernicious anemia which is hereditary. This is when your body is unable to absorb a sufficient amount of vitamin B12. This is one of the major causes of this medical condition.
  • Having an inadequate intake of folate and vitamin B12 may cause your body to have a low level of the nutrients because your diet is low in this vitamin.
  • Having a poor diet when you were an infant.
  • Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet.
  • Having hypothyroidism, which means your thyroid gland is under active.
  • Possible side effects from certain medications used to treat autoimmune disorders, cancer, or seizures.
  • Increasing the production of your red blood cells by the regeneration of bone marrow to correct the condition of anemia.

There are also certain conditions that could cause macrocytosis or make the condition worse such as disorders of your liver.

There are also certain disorders of your bone marrow or blood that could lead to problems in the development of your red blood cells that could cause macrocytosis. Some of these may include:

  • Cancer of your bone marrow or blood known as leukemia.
  • The improper cell production by your bone marrow known as myelodysplasia.
  • The scarring of your bone marrow known as myelofibrosis.

Because the poor absorption of vitamin B12 in your digestive tract can also be the cause of macrocytosis, there may be gastrointestinal conditions causes such as:

  • Crohn’s disease also known as inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Celiac disease which is a very severe sensitivity to gluten from wheat.

There are also risk factors that could put you at risk of developing this medical condition but does not mean that you will develop it if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Ingesting alcohol heavily or alcoholism.
  • Undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Being pregnant
  • Possible surgical side effects.
  • Having a family history of autoimmune disorders or macrocytosis.


The best way to treat this medical condition is to make sure that you are:

  • Eating a diet that is well balanced.
  • Eating foods that are rich with vitamin B12.

If you have a mild case there is usually no treatment needed but your physician may have you take oral supplements along with a diet that is balanced. The actual treatment that will be used depends on what is causing macrocytosis. If the cause of macrocytosis is because of another condition like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, your physician may give you injections of vitamin B12. There may times where you have to take these injections for a long time. It the cause is severe anemia you may have to have a transfusion.

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