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Pernicious anemia

Pernicious anemia: Introduction

Pernicious anemia is one form of anemia, an abnormal condition in which there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the blood. Pernicious anemia is caused by a lack of vitamin B12, which is vital to the normal develoment of red blood cells.

Pernicious anemia is also called vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, and is the most common form of a variety of types of vitamin deficiency anemias. Pernicious anemia can be serious, even life-threatening, if untreated.

Vitamin B12 is crucial to the process of producing red blood cells in the body. Vitamin B12 is ingested into the body by eating certain foods, including lean red meats, poultry, fish, and dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. In some cases, pernicious anemia can occur when a person does not eat enough foods that contain vitamin B12, such as someone who follows a vegan diet.

More often pernicious anemia occurs when the body is unable to absorb vitamin B12 from ingested foods. Problems with the absorption of vitamin B12 can occur due to conditions that affect the absorption of the vitamin in the small intestine, such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or surgical removal of a portion of the small intestine.

Most often, the conditions is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor, a protein substance that is produced by the stomach and is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12 in the small intestine. A lack of intrinsic factor can be due to a surgical procedure that removes all or part of the stomach. It may also be caused by an autoimmune response that destroys intrinsic factor or the stomach cells that produce intrinsic factor. Less often, some people may be born with an inherited inability to make enough intrinsic factor.

Symptoms of pernicious anemia are due to a lack of adequate numbers of red blood cells in the bloodstream. Symptoms can also occur in the nervous system related to the lack of vitamin B12 itself. For more details on symptoms, see symptoms of pernicious anemia.

A diagnosis of pernicious anemia begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and a physical examination. Diagnostic tests include a complete blood count (CBC), which measures the numbers of the different types of blood cells in the blood. A serum vitamin B12 level measures levels of the vitamin in the blood. Additional blood tests may be performed, and a bone marrow examination may also be done to confirm a suspected diagnosis of the pernicious anemia. In addition, tests will be performed to determine the cause of pernicious anemia, including diseases that can underlie pernicious anemia.

Because the symptoms and presentation of pernicious anemia can be vague and/or similar to some other conditions, a delayed or missed diagnosis of the condition is possible. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of pernicious anemia.

Pernicious anemia can usually be treated successfully, and most people have a good prognosis. Treatment of pernicious anemia is tailored to the individual case, the cause, and the presence of any underlying diseases or complications. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of pernicious anemia. ...more »

Pernicious anemia: Pernicious anemia is a blood disorder where the body is unable to use it properly use Vitamin B12 to make red blood cells. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Pernicious anemia is available below.

Pernicious anemia: Symptoms

The symptoms of pernicious anemia can vary amongst individuals, depending on the cause, the severity of anemia, and other factors.

Direct symptoms of pernicious anemia are due to a lack of red blood cells, which are vital to carrying oxygen to the cells of the body. Symptoms can include pale skin, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, headache, cold hands and feet, heart palpitations ...more symptoms »

Pernicious anemia: Treatments

The first step in the treatment of pernicious anemia is prevention. Many types of pernicious anemias cannot be prevented. However, it is important to eat a diet that includes a sufficient amount of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 found in lean red meats, poultry, fish, and dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Taking supplements that contain vitamin ...more treatments »

Pernicious anemia: Misdiagnosis

It is possible for a diagnosis of pernicious anemia to be delayed or missed. This is because some symptoms, such as fatigue, pale skin, headache, and cold hands and feet, can be vague, easily overlooked, or attributed to relatively benign conditions, such as a lack of sun or aging.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency, which causes pernicious anemia, can ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Pernicious anemia

Treatments for Pernicious anemia

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia: Related Patient Stories

Alternative Treatments for Pernicious anemia

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Pernicious anemia: Complications

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Causes of Pernicious anemia

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Disease Topics Related To Pernicious anemia

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Pernicious anemia: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Pernicious anemia

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Pernicious anemia: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Pernicious anemia

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Pernicious anemia, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Pernicious anemia: Rare Types

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Pernicious anemia: Animations

Statistics for Pernicious anemia

Pernicious anemia: Broader Related Topics

Pernicious anemia Message Boards

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Definitions of Pernicious anemia:

Anemia due to poor intestinal absorption of vitamin B12 caused by defective production of intrinsic factor (a carrier protein) by the gastric mucosa. - (Source - Diseases Database)

A chronic progressive anemia of older adults; thought to result from a lack of intrinsic factor (a substance secreted by the stomach that is responsible for the absorption of vitamin B12) - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Ophanet, a consortium of European partners, currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000. They list Pernicious anemia as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet

 

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