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DEFINITION – Inadequate or absent vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for proper blood clotting. Some vitamin K is produced in the gastrointestinal tract.
BODY PARTS INVOLVED – Liver; blood.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED – Both sexes; all ages. A newborn infant lacks vitamin K until its body begins to produce it.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Unusual bleeding, such as from the gums, nose or gastrointestinal tract.
- Unexplained bruising.
- Excessive amounts of anticoagulant drugs, such as warfarin or dicumarol.
- Prolonged use of antibiotics. Vitamin K is produced by intestinal bacteria that are destroyed by antibiotics.
- Gallbladder disease.
- Malabsorption disorders, such as celiac disease, pellagra, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or cystic fibrosis.
RISK INCREASES WITH – Poor nutrition, especially an unbalanced diet with inadequate amounts of vitamin K.
HOW TO PREVENT – Injections of vitamin K are given to newborn infants and to persons with gallbladder disease or malabsorption disorders to prevent deficiency. For most people, a well-balanced diet should provide all the vitamin K necessary.
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Laboratory studies of blood clotting.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Doctor’s treatment.
- Self-care after diagnosis.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS – Severe or fatal hemorrhage.
PROBABLE OUTCOME – Curable with vitamin K supplements by mouth or injection.
How To Treat
GENERAL MEASURES – If you take anticoagulants, take only the prescribed amount. Have frequent blood tests to monitor prothrombin time and prevent unexpected bleeding.
MEDICATION – Your doctor will prescribe vitamin K orally or by injection.
ACTIVITY – No restrictions.
DIET – Eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods high in vitamin K, such as green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, tomatoes, cheese, egg yolks and liver.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have unexplained bleeding or bruising, especially if you take anticoagulants or have gallbladder disease or a malabsorptive disorder.
From the Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery by H. Winter Griffith, M.D. © 1995 The Putnam Berkley Group, Inc.; electronic rights by Medical Data Exchange.