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Posts Tagged ‘What is pernicious anemia’

What is Pernicious Anemia?

Sunday, August 18th, 2013



Pernicious Anemia, in a simplified definition is the loss of body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12. It is also the most common cause of adult vitamin B12 deficiency.

What is Pernicious Anemia?

Years ago, pernicious anemia was a major cause of death. The definition of “pernicious” is “having a harmful effect, esp. in a gradual or subtle way”. Thus, it was called “pernicious” because the condition would usually not be discovered until it was too late, and the individual with pernicious anemia would usually die.

Iron, Folate and Vitamin B12 are all needed to produce healthy red blood cells. The largest part of our blood is formed of red blood cells. A normal healthy person will have 600 red blood cells for each one white blood cell and 40 platelets. The main purpose of red blood cells is to carry oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- How Long does it Take?

Red blood cells need three essential ingredients to perform their main function. These three ingredients are:

  1. Folate – found in leafy vegetables and peas and dried beans. Also known as Folic Acid, and added to some foods.
  2. Iron – found in red meat, fish, poultry, lentils, and beans
  3. Vitamin B12 – is found naturally in meat, fish and dairy products including milk, butter and eggs. However, B12 is extracted from these foods via a very complex biochemical process, utilizing the gastrointestinal system.

Vitamin B12 will enter the stomach bound to proteins called “Intrinsic Factor”.  The Intrinsic Factor is then absorbed, along with the B12, by the Ileum which is part of the stomach in the small bowel. Without Intrinsic Factor, B12 cannot be absorbed into the body.  Thus, the inability of the body to absorb B12, is caused by a faulty digestive process, and not, as many people think, by a malfunction of the blood!

Healthy people will produce the gastric parietal cells to produce Intrinsic Factor.  However, if one’s digestive system is not functioning properly, their digestive system may fail to produce Intrinsic Factor, and thus fail to absorb Vitamin B12. This can then lead to a deficiency of Vitamin B12.

For some reason, some people produce something that kills off the Intrinsic Factor. It is called Anti-Intrinsic Factor Antibodies.  One of the tests used to diagnose Pernicious Anemia is the test for Anti-Intrinsic Factor Antibodies.  If a patient tests positive for the antibodies then he or she is diagnosed as having Pernicious Anemia.

Shocking Must-See Video on Vitamin B12 Deficiency Crisis

Medical conditions in which this type of self-destruction occurs are classified as Auto-Immune Diseases.

Pernicious Anemia is typified by a number of symptoms.  The most common symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • extreme fatigue
  • fogginess of thought
  • poor concentration
  • short-term memory loss
  • confusing behavior
  • nominal aphasia (forgetting names of objects or ideas)
  • clumsiness and/or lack of coordination
  • brittle nails; dry skin
  • mood swings, bouts of unexpected crying,  heightened emotions

Some neurological symptoms include the following (and usually indicate severity of the disease):

  • Imbalance
  • dizziness, faintness
  • frequently bumping into or falling against walls
  • general unsteadiness, especially when showering and dressing
  • inability to stand up with eyes closed or in the dark
  • numbness/tingling in the extremities
  • Tinnitus – ringing or buzzing in the ears

If you experience many of these symptoms you should see your local doctor. Ask for the Anti-Intrinsic Factor Antibody Test.

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Like this? Read more:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Type of Anemia: True or False?

Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Which Causes Which?

Image courtesy or dream designs/freedigitalphotos

Pernicious Anemia: Your 13 Most Frequently Asked Questions, Answered!

Monday, December 12th, 2011



What is pernicious anemia, and how is it different from vitamin B12 deficiency or megaloblastic anemia? That is one of many questions that people have about pernicious anemia- questions that are answered here.


PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM1. What’s the difference between pernicious anemia and megaloblastic anemia?

Pernicious anemia, a form of megaloblastic anemia, is a disease that impairs red blood cell distribution through vitamin B12 deficiency; for that reason, it is also called vitamin B12 malabsorption anemia.



(It is worth mentioning that pernicious anemia is only one of many factors that causes vitamin B12 deficiency.)

Other names for pernicious anemia are Biermer’s anemia, Addison’s anemia, and combined systems disease (a disorder of the nervous system).

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM2. What is the relationship between intrinsic factor and pernicious anemia?

Whenever you eat foods that contain vitamin B12- protein foods like beef, chicken, seafood, cheese, and eggs- your digestive system produces a chemical called intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme.

Intrinsic factor then grabs the vitamin B12 from your stomach, bonds to it, carries it through the small intestine, and delivers it to the ileum, at the base of your small intestine.

From here, the vitamin B12 is then either absorbed and dispersed into your bloodstream as “active vitamin B12,” or it is stored in the liver. That is how most people digest vitamin B12.

People who suffer from pernicious anemia are not able to manufacture or regulate the intrinsic factor enzyme.  Even if they eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin B12, they are unable to digest the essential vitamin, and the result is a catastrophic depletion of vitamin B12 levels in the blood.

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM3. What are the symptoms of B12 deficiency- pernicious anemia?

The most common pernicious anemia symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Painful tingling sensations in hands and feet
  • Hands and feet often “falling asleep” or going numb
  • Sore, red tongue
  • Altered taste perception
  • Constant stumbling while walking
  • Clumsiness
  • Muscular feebleness
  • Pale complexion
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pains
  • Trouble sleeping

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency causes low red blood cell production, forgetfulness, severe nerve damage, and increased risk for heart attack , stroke, and osteoporosis.

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM4. What natural remedies work best for pernicious anemia?

Since pernicious anemia results from vitamin B12 deficiency, the only remedy you need is…more B12!  The real question is: How much vitamin B12 do you need? Only your doctor can answer that by taking blood tests, determining if your body makes intrinsic factor, and prescribing the proper venue of vitamin B12 supplementation.

If it is determined that you lack intrinsic factor, then you will need to take vitamin B12 supplements, most likely for the rest of your life, in order to avoid getting vitamin B12 deficiency again.

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM5. Why is a pernicious anemia patient unable to take vitamin B12 orally?

Without intrinsic factor, your body cannot digest dietary sources of vitamin B12- and that includes vitamin B12 pills.  As a rule of thumb, if vitamin B12 passes through a digestive system that does not produce intrinsic factor, then the B12 will pass through without being broken down or digested.  In order to get vitamin B12 into your blood supply, you have to insert it there directly- usually through B12 shots.

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM6. How long does it take before you start to feel the benefits of vitamin B12 supplements?

Assuming you are getting the correct dose of vitamin B12, and are taking an efficient method of B12 supplements…most patients start to feel notably better within 24 hours of vitamin B12 supplementation.


Family history is one of many causes of pernicious anemia.  If your family has a history of suffering from pernicious anemia, then you should take routine blood tests for vitamin B12 deficiency throughout your life.


What are the Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia- B12 deficiency?

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM8. If I have one autoimmune disease like pernicious anemia, am I more likely to have another autoimmune disease?

Scientists have noted a high correlation between pernicious anemia and many other autoimmune disorders. When other diseases are a factor, pernicious anemia often occurs from drug interactions, comorbid symptoms, or a cyclical relationship with that disease.  Below are some conditions that may accompany pernicious anemia:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Celiac disease
  • Gastritis
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Hypothyroidism

Leaky Gut Syndrome Symptoms and Causes

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM9. I’m only 20 years old.  Could someone my age have pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia can happen to somebody of any age group.  Because your body stores vitamin B12 in the liver for several years, you may not know that your body has stopped absorbing it until you start to feel the symptoms, by which time your B12 levels will have dropped severely.  If you suspect you have any of the symptoms of pernicious anemia, then do not hesitate to get a blood test.


Gastritis- painful inflammation of the stomach lining- has many possible causes.  The most common are alcohol abuse, chronic vomiting, and overusing drugs such as aspirin. Untreated, chronic gastritis can cause blood loss.  Other causes of gastritis are:

  • Pernicious anemia
  • Stomach infection
  • Bile reflux
  • Viruses


When scientists first discovered vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, they deemed it a fatal disease, and thus named it “pernicious (malicious) anemia.”  Without B12, your body is unable to make sufficiency red blood cells.  Today, doctors are easily able to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency through blood tests, administer treatment in the form of pure vitamin B12, and prevent further escalation of pernicious anemia.  Untreated, pernicious anemia can lead to life-threatening illnesses, such as heart attack, stroke.


Pernicious anemia may cause gastric polyps, increasing one’s risk for getting stomach damage or gastric carcinoid tumors.

PERNICIOUS ANEMIA: YOUR 13 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. WWW.B12PATCH.COM13. Are there any support groups for others with pernicious anemia?

There are many advocacy groups for pernicious anemia, and most of them are on Facebook.  Here are a few:

Pernicious Anaemia Society

Vitamin B12 Deficiency on Facebook

Pernicious Anemia Awareness on Facebook

Pernicious Anaemia – What do you know?…And what they don’t tell you! on Facebook

Read more about pernicious anemia and vitamin B12:

Painful Tingling in Hands and Feet- What’s Up with That?

Lupus and Vitamin B12 Deficiency- What’s the Connection?

Babies, B12, and Fertility- B12 Deficiency during Pregnancy


Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)- University of Maryland Medical Center

Gastritis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and More

Pernicious Anemia- Medscape

Pernicious Anemia Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention on MedicineNet.com

Image credits, from top:

Danilo Rizzuti, digitalart, Salvatore Vuono

Signs and Symptoms of 6 Types of Anemia Blood Disease

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011



Pernicious Anemia, Sickle Cell, and Others: Anemia is a serious blood disease resulting in low blood cell production; aside from vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia, how many other types of anemia are there?


What are the different kinds of anemia?

There are six general types of anemia.  They include:

Pernicious Anemia (PA)

Pernicious anemia is an acquired disease that causes vitamin B12 deficiency.  Vitamin B12 is crucial for producing healthy red blood cells, in addition to supporting your nervous system, promoting mental clarity, and optimizing your metabolism. With pernicious anemia, you are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from natural food sources, resulting in severe depletion of vitamin B12 levels in your blood.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • tingling in your hands and/or feet
  • “brain fog”
  • memory loss
  • depression
  • aggression.

If diagnosed with pernicious anemia, your doctor may recommend weekly vitamin B12 injections, which are inserted in the thick thigh muscle or buttock.  Vitamin B12 shots require a prescription, may cause bruising, and are usually painful.

As an alternative, patients may opt for gentle over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements that don’t  require injection.

Also read: B12 Deficiency can really Get on your Nerves

Hemolytic Anemia (HA)

Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed (hemolysis) at a rate that is quicker than their reproduction in bone marrow.  People who have hemolytic anemia have either inherited it as a genetic disease, or acquired it later in life.  Mild hemolytic anemia does not usually require treatment, but severe anemia can be life-threatening, requiring blood transfusions, steroids, or splenectomy.

Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA)

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disease.  In sickle cell anemia, abnormally shaped hemoglobin cells become obstructed in small blood vessels, causing pain and possible organ damage to the anemic individual.  There is no cure for sickle cell anemia, but therapies for reducing the symptoms of anemia include antibiotics, pain relievers, and blood transfusions.


Aplastic Anemia (AA)

Aplastic anemia is a blood disease that can be life threatening.  In aplastic anemia, your bone marrow is unable to produce sufficient amounts of crucial blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets.  Diagnosis of anemia includes testing that indicates low blood count of any of the three blood cells types.  Causes of aplastic anemia include autoimmune disease (most common) or exposure to chemotherapy and other types of radiation.  Possible treatments for aplastic anemia include bone marrow transplants, blood transfusions, and restraining of the immune system.  Untreated, aplastic anemia can be fatal.

Fanconi Anemia (FA)

Fanconi anemia is a rare blood disorder, and it is inherited as a genetic disease. Fanconi anemia involves bone marrow failure, and can lead to myelogenous leukemia. Even with bone marrow transplants, patients of Fanconi anemia rarely live past the age of thirty.

Bone Marrow Disease Anemia

Sometimes, bone marrow diseases, such as leukemia and myelodysplasia (pre-leukemia), create symptoms of anemia in patients, as diseased bone marrow causes inadequate production of red blood cells.

Related reading:

“I’ve heard of the X Factor and Fear Factor…But what’s Intrinsic Factor?”

B12 Deficiency: Don’t Ignore the Symptoms

AIDS with B12 Deficiency


Anemia: Types of Anemia- Healthplus24.com

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia? -NHLBI, NIH

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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