Pernicious anemia: What is it?
A person develops pernicious anemia when they are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from their diet. Foods derived from animals, such as eggs, meat, chicken, and fish, include vitamin B12. Despite not having pernicious anemia, vegetarians and persons who have undergone weight loss surgery should take extra vitamin B12.
An essential protein that your body needs to absorb vitamin B12 is not produced by your stomach in pernicious anemia. “Intrinsic factor” is the name of the protein. This occurs when the intrinsic factor protein or the stomach cells that produce it are attacked by your immune system, which is responsible for battling infections. Because of this, your body cannot absorb vitamin B12, even if you consume foods that contain it.
Making blood cells requires the vitamin B12, which is essential. People with pernicious anemia may have insufficient levels of platelets, white blood cells, or red blood cells (together referred to as “anemia”) (which help the blood to clot).
The brain and nerves require vitamin B12 as well. People with pernicious anemia may have sadness, cognitive difficulties, tingling and numbness in their hands and feet, balance issues, weakness, or other nervous system issues.
Which signs and symptoms accompany pernicious anemia?
Mild pernicious anemia patients may not exhibit any symptoms. However, if the vitamin B12 level is low enough, people may experience symptoms.
Anemia may cause certain symptoms, including:
- Pale skin or tissue that is light in color on the inner of the eyelids. By gently pushing down your lower eyelid, you may view this tissue, also known as the conjunctiva. Instead of the tissue’s usual pinkish-red tint, the tissue will appear paler.
- Feeling so exhausted
- A quick heartbeat
- difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches and headaches
One of the signs of a low white blood count is a higher-than-normal frequency of infections.
Low platelet counts might cause bruising or bleeding as symptoms.
The functioning of the brain and nerves may also change in individuals with pernicious anemia. That’s because vitamin B12 is crucial for maintaining healthy nerve and brain function. These modifications may consist of:
- Memory and cognitive issues that can get really bad
- Mood issues, such as being irritable or grumpy
- Skin tingles or scorching sensations
- Inability to move one’s arms or legs
- Problems balancing
Is pernicious anemia measurable?
Yes. Different blood tests are able to check for vitamin B12 levels and the immune issue that results in pernicious anemia.
What is the treatment for pernicious anemia?
Vitamin B12 supplements are used in the treatment of pernicious anemia. These can be administered as a high-dose vitamin B12 pill or as a vitamin B12 injection (shot).
Your doctor might advise starting with a shot every day or every other day for a week, depending on how severe your condition is.
For the rest of their lives, people with pernicious anemia typically need to take vitamin B12.
It is crucial to continue taking vitamin B12 throughout your treatment, regardless of the modality. If you stop, your vitamin B12 level could drop once more and you could experience severe symptoms.
How to treat vitamin B12 deficiencies?
Doctors administer vitamin B12 to patients who are deficient in it. It is available as an injection or tablet. You can discuss the best form for your circumstance with your doctor.
If the cause of your deficiency is treatable, your doctor or nurse will also deal with it.
Can vitamin B12 deficiencies be avoided?
Yes. By consuming foods that contain the vitamins, you can reduce your risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiencies:
- All animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and milk, contain vitamin B12. You should take a vitamin B12 supplement if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan who doesn’t eat any meat, dairy products, or eggs.
- Green, leafy vegetables and fruits are foods that contain folate. Folic acid is a common grain additive found in foods like cereal and bread.
Many people who have undergone weight loss surgery, particularly those who lack vitamin B12, are deficient in these nutrients. Discuss the supplements you should take with your doctor if you’ve had weight-loss surgery.