What is methylene blue?

Methylene blue is used to treat methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the blood cannot provide oxygen where it is needed in the body. Hemoglobin in the blood transports oxygen and distributes it to organs and tissues. Methemoglobin, a type of hemoglobin that is not useful, usually occurs in the blood in small amounts. But when levels become high (methemoglobinemia), the blood does not move oxygen well. This lack of oxygen in the body may result in symptoms such as skin that is pale or blue-colored. Methemoglobinemia typically happens when a person is exposed to particular drugs or chemicals. It also may be an inherited condition. Methylene blue treats methemoglobinemia by converting methemoglobin to a more useful kind of hemoglobin that can more effectively transport oxygen through the body. In addition, methylene blue is used as a dye that stains particular body parts and fluids to make it easier to see them before or during surgery, on an x-ray or in other exams used for diagnosis.

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