What is the course of methemoglobinemia?

Updated: Dec 09, 2018
  • Author: Mary Denshaw-Burke, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Clinically, methemoglobinemia has a variable course (see Presentation). Because of the nonspecificity of the clinical findings, mild cases may go undiagnosed. Fatigue, flulike symptoms, and headaches may be the only manifestations in the initial phase. Symptoms are proportional to the methemoglobin level and include skin color changes (cyanosis with blue or grayish pigmentation) and blood color changes (brown or chocolate color). As levels of methemoglobin rise above 15%, neurologic and cardiac symptoms arise as a consequence of hypoxia. Levels higher than 70% are usually fatal. [4]


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