What is Addison’s disease, and why is pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency sometimes labeled Addison’s anemia? Here are some facts about B12 deficiency and Addison’s.
What is Addison’s disease?
Addison’s disease is a rare illness that destroys the adrenal glands. Since symptoms of Addison’s don’t manifest themselves until the adrenal cortex is nearly obliterated- by 90%- Addison’s disease is difficult to catch in time to prevent damage.
What are the symptoms of Addison’s disease?
Symptoms of advanced-stage Addison’s disease include:
- Constant fatigue
- Muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Salt cravings
- Low blood pressure
- Skin discolorations
What causes Addison’s disease?
Addison’s from autoimmune disorder is the most common type, but other rare forms of Addison’s disease occur around the world.
Causes of Addison’s disease include:
- Autoimmune disorder
- Fungal infection
- Adrenal hemorrhage
- Treatment for Cushing’s disease
- Some hereditary diseases
- Secondary Addison’s disease from pituitary gland tumor
Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency an Autoimmune Disorder? Yup.
Vitamin B12 deficiency and Addison’s
Most cases of Addison’s disease result from autoimmune disorder, and approximately half eventually develop other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid malfunctions.
Often, vitamin B12 deficiency also results from an autoimmune disorder- pernicious anemia, which occurs when the stomach is unable to produce or maintain the intrinsic factor enzyme that is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.
About 5% of patients with autoimmune Addison’s disease may also develop vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia.
Because of the strong link between vitamin B12 deficiency and Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia is sometimes referred to as Addison’s anemia.
Other conditions that correlate with Addison’s include:
- Vitiligo (white patches on skin)
- Celiac disease- gluten sensitivity disorder
- Hair loss
- Muscle loss
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura)– low blood platelets
Symptoms of pernicious anemia
Blood tests for vitamin B12 deficiency and intrinsic factor antibodies can determine if you have pernicious anemia.
Symptoms of pernicious anemia include:
- Constant fatigue
- Muscle pain
- Mental confusion (brain fog)
- Painful tingling and numbness in hands and feet
- Muscle twitches
- Electric shock sensations
- Difficulty walking
- Poor motor control
- Heart palpitations
- Altered sense of taste
- Sore red tongue
- Burning mouth syndrome
Pernicious Anemia and B12 Deficiency- Historically Fatal, Still Formidable
Pernicious anemia treatment
To replenish vitamin B12 in your blood, a regimen of vitamin B12 injections, are necessary, per doctor’s instructions.
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Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency
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Living with Addison’s Disease
SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY, FRANK AND HELENA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY, Ambro