Pernicious Anemia (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What is pernicious anemia?
- What is megaloblastic anemia?
- What causes pernicious anemia?
- Is pernicious anemia the same as vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia?
- What are the symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency/pernicious anemia?
- How is pernicious anemia/vitamin B-12 deficiency diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for pernicious anemia/vitamin B-12 deficiency?
- Can pernicious anemia/ vitamin B-12 deficiency be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for pernicious anemia/ vitamin B-12 deficiency?
- Pernicious Anemia At A Glance
- Find a local Hematologist in your town
Can pernicious anemia/ vitamin B-12 deficiency be prevented?
The autoimmune process that causes pernicious anemia cannot be prevented. Vitamin B-12 deficiency that is caused by conditions such as other gastrointestinal diseases and gastrointestinal surgery is preventable only to the extent that these causative conditions themselves are preventable.
Vitamin B-12 is derived from animal (for example, meat, fish, poultry, milk) sources, but vitamin B-12 deficiency in vegetarians or vegans can be prevented by the use of oral vitamin B-12 supplements. An oral dose of 100-200 micrograms (mcg) taken weekly is sufficient. Pregnant and nursing women who are vegetarians or vegan should take a B-12 supplement and inform their doctors they are vegetarians or vegan.
What is the prognosis for pernicious anemia/ vitamin B-12 deficiency?
If untreated, the neurological complications of pernicious anemia can be permanent and end in death, but pernicious anemia is easily and effectively treated by the administration of vitamin B-12. Life-long treatment is required.
People with pernicious anemia have a slightly increased risk of stomach cancer when compared to the normal population. The incidence of stomach cancer in people with pernicious anemia is 2-3 times higher than in the general population of the same age.
Pernicious Anemia At A Glance
- Pernicious anemia is a condition caused by too little vitamin B12 in the body. It is a form of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
- Vitamin B12 helps the body make healthy red blood cells and helps keep
nerve cells healthy. It is found in animal foods, including meat, fish, eggs,
milk, and other dairy products.
- The most common cause of pernicious anemia is the loss of stomach cells
that make intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor helps the body absorb vitamin B12
in the intestine. The loss of parietal cells may be due to destruction by the
body's own immune system.
- Pernicious anemia can cause permanent damage to nerves and other organs if
it goes on for a long time without being treated. It also raises the risk for
developing stomach cancer.
- Common signs and symptoms of pernicious anemia are:
- Feeling tired and weak
- Tingling and numbness in hands and feet
- A bright red, smooth tongue
Learn more about: B12
- Feeling tired and weak
- Pernicious anemia is diagnosed using family history and medical history, a
physical exam, and diagnostic tests and procedures.
- Pernicious anemia is easy to treat with vitamin B12 pills or shots as well
as diet changes. Life-long treatment is needed.
- Complications caused by untreated pernicious anemia may be reversible with
- Doctors don't know how to prevent pernicious anemia that is caused by the
immune system destroying stomach cells.
- Eating foods high in vitamin B12 and folic acid can help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a poor diet.
REFERENCE: eMedicine.com, "Pernicious anemia."
Last Editorial Review: 11/20/2009
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