Is it Pernicious Anemia or Multiple Sclerosis? Part 3

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Pernicious anemia (PA) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are both autoimmune disorders that cause fatigue, chronic pain, and physical handicaps, but that is where their similarities end. If that’s the case, why are so many doctors quick to diagnose multiple sclerosis before testing for simple vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia?

Is it Pernicious Anemia or Multiple=

Diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS)

There is single test to determine multiple sclerosis; if you suffer from symptoms indicating MS, then you may need to visit a neurologist, who will run a series of tests in order to determine if you are indeed suffering from multiple sclerosis, and not another condition with similar disorders, such as pernicious anemia, which often mimic the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Criteria used to diagnose multiple sclerosis include:

  • Symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, muscle pain, and vision problems
  • Symptoms that began between the ages of 20-50
  • Signs of neurological disorder
  • Two or more brain lesions that are evident from MRI scans
  • Debilitating symptoms that occur in phases at least one month apart
  • Vitamin B12 levels are normal
  • No other underlying diseases are detected

Tests and procedures that confirm multiple sclerosis include:

  • MRI brain scan
  • Spinal tap
  • Evoked potential tests
  • Blood tests

Diagnosing pernicious anemia (PA)

The main indicator of pernicious anemia is severe depletion of vitamin B12 levels in the blood. However, pernicious anemia is not the only cause of vitamin B12 deficiency. (Other causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include vegan dieting, bariatric surgery, autoimmune disorder, GERD or diabetes medications, alcoholism, and old age.)

In order to determine that vitamin B12 deficiency is from pernicious anemia, your doctor will need to run some tests and look for specific criteria that indicate pernicious anemia.

Criteria used to diagnose pernicious anemia include:

  • Family history for pernicious anemia or autoimmune disorders
  • Underlying immune system malfunctioning
  • Lack of intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme needed to absorb vitamin B12 from foods and pills
  • Gastrointestinal problems (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease)

Tests and procedures that confirm pernicious anemia include:

  • Physical exam
  • Vitamin B12 blood test
  • Intrinsic factor antibody
  • Parietal cell antibody
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Reticulocyte count
  • Homocysteine
  • Methylmalonic acid (MMA)
  • Iron-binding capacity
  • Bone marrow

Also read:

Is it Pernicious Anemia or Multiple Sclerosis? Part 1 (overview)

Is it Pernicious Anemia or Multiple Sclerosis? Part 2 (Symptoms)

Your turn!

Have you been misdiagnosed with MS, when really you have low vitamin B12 levels?

How many years do you think you had vitamin B12 deficiency before you finally got a correct diagnosis?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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Like this? Read more:

Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Which Causes Which?

Can Vitamin B12 Repair Nerve Cells?

15 Chronic Pain Causes and 15 Treatments (Vitamin B12 is one)


Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

How Is Pernicious Anemia Diagnosed?

Image(s) courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/