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Pernicious Anemia

What is Pernicious Anemia?

Pernicious anemia is a rare condition in which the body does not absorb enough vitamin B12 from the digestive tract. It causes inadequate production of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is needed to make red blood cells. Pernicious anemia is hereditary. It is rarely caused by a diet lacking in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in meat, eggs, shellfish, fortified cereals and milk.

Pernicious anemia is a chronic condition that progresses steadily if not treated.

Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia

In early stages of pernicious anemia, there are usually no symptoms. When symptoms do appear, the most common ones are:

  • weakness
  • pale skin
  • lightheadedness
  • sore tongue
  • diarrhea
  • poor appetite
  • weight loss
  • nausea
  • mental confusion
  • yellow skin
  • numbness or coldness in hands and feet

What causes Pernicious Anemia?

It most common cause of pernicious anemia is inheriting it from your parents. Other causes include: surgery to the stomach, surgery to the small intestine, abnormal bacterial growth in the small intestine, Crohn's Disease, and celiac disease.

Pernicious anemia may also be associated with type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, and a family history of the pernicious anemia.

Treatment Options for Pernicious Anemia

Your doctor will devise a treatment that best suits you. The treatment will depend on:

  • your age
  • overall health
  • medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

Treatments include injection of vitamin B12. Depending on the severity of the condition, injections may be needed once a day or once a month. If vitamin B12 deficiency is related to a poor diet, changes to your diet will also be a part of the treatment.

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