What is the role of medications in the treatment of methemoglobinemia?

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

Unless methemoglobinemia is severe or symptomatic, treatment is purely for cosmetic or psychological reasons. Various agents can reduce the methemoglobin levels to within the reference range (~1%) or at least to acceptable levels (5-10%).

Methylene blue is the first-line antidotal therapy. Ascorbic acid and riboflavin have been used. N -acetylcysteine reduces methemoglobin levels but is not yet approved for the treatment of methemoglobinemia. Cimetidine can be used in dapsone-induced methemoglobinemia. Hyperbaric oxygen and exchange transfusion should be considered when methylene blue treatment is ineffective or contraindicated.


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