The body needs certain vitamins in order to function properly. These vitamins are typically obtained through food. Vitamin A is one of these essential vitamins. When a person doesn’t have enough of a certain vitamin, he or she is considered vitamin deficient. A vitamin deficiency can cause a lot of health problems if not treated. But the good thing is that Vitamin A deficiency can be easily treated, and patients are usually able to recover quickly.
Vitamin A Deficiency Risk Factors
While vitamin A deficiency can happen to anyone, there are some people who more likely to suffer from this condition than others. These risk factors do not mean a person will become vitamin A deficient; it just means they are more at risk for it. These risk factors include:
- Poor diet
- People living in underdeveloped countries
Vitamin A Deficiency Causes
There are numerous things that can cause vitamin A deficiency. In some cases, there is more than one contributing cause. In other cases, the cause is unknown. It is important for doctors to find the cause of the problem, so they can determine the right treatment. Some common causes include:
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Small-bowel bypass surgery
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Liver problems
- Cystic fibrosis
- Tropical sprue
- Biliary obstruction
Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms
Most patients do not notice the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency until they’ve become severe. The symptoms are often subtle at first but worsen over time. Some of the most severe symptoms affect the eyes. Some common symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include:
- Vision changes
- Cornea dryness
- Skin changes
- Kidney stone
- Changes in the skeletal system
- Lowered resistance to infection
Vitamin A Deficiency Diagnosis
VAD is often diagnosed by accident. Doctors take blood samples or urine samples for other reasons and notice the low levels of vitamin A while checking those samples. In some cases, doctors may recognize a person’s symptoms and choose to collect blood to confirm that the patient is suffering from VAD.
Vitamin A Deficiency Treatment
Vitamin A deficiency can be treated with vitamin A supplements. Doctors may recommend that patients take an oral vitamin daily to increase the vitamin A in their system. Doctors may also inject the vitamin into the patient to help address the symptoms faster. Other options include helping the patient come up with an appropriate diet plan to allow them to eat foods that are good sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin A Deficiency Prognosis
With proper treatment, people who are suffering from vitamin A deficiency can recover quickly. Most people do not suffer from chronic deficiency. Once they receive treatment, they do not experience any problems. Those who do not receive treatment will experience worsening symptoms. In some cases, people who have a prolonged vitamin A deficiency can suffer from permanent blindness.
Vitamin A Deficiency Complications
There are some severe complications that are associated with VAD. If left untreated, blindness can occur. People with VAD also have a compromised immune systemthat makes them more at risk for other illnesses and disorders. Severe VAD can lead to death.