The Glucose 6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Blood Test, or simply G6PD Test, evaluates for a hereditary deficiency of G6PD, an enzyme found in red blood cells (RBCs) and other cells. When individuals with a G6PD deficiency are exposed to triggers such as stress, a bacterial or viral infection, or certain substances (examples include fava beans, naphthalene, aspirin, and some antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs), changes occur in RBC membranes that can cause the cells to break apart, leading to hemolytic anemia if the body can’t produce enough cells to replace the destroyed RBCs. Signs and symptoms of hemolytic anemia include weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, fainting, jaundice, rapid heart rate, and dark (red or brown) urine.
According to the Nemours Foundation, G6PD deficiency affects about 400 million people and is the most common enzymatic disorder of RBCs. Most individuals with this deficiency are able to lead normal lives by avoiding triggers.
You are more likely to develop this condition if you:
- Are African American
- Are of Middle Eastern decent, particularly Kurdish or Sephardic Jewish
- Are male
- Have a family history of the deficiency
People with this condition do not display any signs of the disease until their red blood cells are exposed to certain chemicals in food or medicine, or to stress.
Symptoms are more common in men and may include:
- Dark urine
- Enlarged spleen
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Yellow skin color (jaundice)