Friday, June 15, 2007

Blue people with chocolate blood

No I'm not talking about smurfs, but actual people with a blue coloration. Methemoglobinemia, or Met-Hb, is an anemic condition where there is an overabundance of methemoglobin. The excess of methemglobin is due to a deficiency in the NADH Met-Hb reductase which usually prevents the spontaneous formation of Met-Hb. The blood of patients afflicted with that condition is hypoxic and dark brown. The treatment is to supply pure O2 and inject a 1% solution of methylene blue which restores the iron in the hemoglobin to its reduced state.

The condition has given rise to different blue people mythology in Kentucky, just read this story:
"Dark blue lips and fingernails are the only traces of Martin Fugate's legacy left in the boy; that, and the recessive gene that has shaded many of the Fugates and their kin blue for the past 162 years. They're known simply as the "blue people" in the hills and hollows around Troublesome and Ball Creeks. Most lived to their 80s and 90s without serious illness associated with the skin discoloration. "

The blue coloration can also be induced by ingestion of nitrites barbyturates and other chmicals, or by explosions. So be careful on Canada Day with the fireworks you've smuggled from the states...


Anonymous Coward said...

Ingestion of nitrates in drinking water has long been thought to be a primary cause of acquired infantile methemoglobinemia, often called blue baby syndrome. However, recent research and a review of historical cases offer a more complex picture of the causes of infantile methemoglobinemia. Gastrointestinal infection and inflammation and the ensuing overproduction of nitric oxide may be the cause of many cases of infantile methemoglobinemia previously attributed to drinking water nitrates. If so, current limits on allowable levels of nitrates in drinking water, which are based solely on the health threat of infantile methemoglobinemia, may be unnecessarily strict.

kamel said...

There are also cases of people bleeding green. In this case it's sulfhaemoglobinaemia - when sulfur gets incorporated into haemoglobin instead of oxygen, and was chalked up to the migraine medication he was taking.