Pernicious Anemia

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February 7, 2016:
Dr. Donohue on anemia and its treatment. If you have pernicious anemia, B12 may be one of many treatment options.

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What is pernicious anemia?

Once fatal disease now treated with vitamin B-12

Pernicious anemia was once akin to leukemia, in that it was seen as a fatal disease. Now, like leukemia, pernicious anemia can be treated, and with a much more positive prognosis. As one of the most common causes of adult b12 deficiency, pernicious anemia had only been diagnosed when liver stores of b12 had been depleted. Today, the diagnosis is far better thanks to the ability to use vitamin b12 injections to treat the disease. In fact, the treatment of pernicious anemia is one of the most legitimate uses of B12 shots, and does the most good. Over the long term, the use of sublingual b12 supplements and vitamin pills may be recommended to maintain health as long as the body is able to absorb b12 in the intestine. One of the dangers of untreated pernicious anemia can be nerve damage. Some of the symptoms of the disease can include depression, fatigue, forgetfulness, concentration issues, nausea, weight loss, heartburn, and fevers. The nerve issues with pernicious anemia may also lead to loss of sensation in the feet, clumsiness, weakness, heart murmurs, and heart failurs. Over the long term, gastric cancer can occur. Many of these symptoms may be mistaken for other diseases, since people may present with issues that could be mistaken for ADHD other illnesses. Similar problems related to gastric bypass may create the same issues, since less b12 absorption creates the same symptoms. Surprisingly, a body may store 3 to 5 years worth of vitamin b12 in the liver, so the depletion can take place over time. Diagnosis by blood smear shows fragile and immature erythrocytes, and other tests may show unusual methylmalonic acid levels. Patients who can't absorb B12 orally or sublingually (or fast enough) may get monthly injections to treat symptoms. Nasal sprays and ear patches might also be used.

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Special note: Nothing on this site should be considered as any kind of advice whatsoever.