Pernicious Anemia – Medical Definition And Treatment

Every one of us has heard about Anemia at least once in our lives. In case you haven’t, Anemia is said to be a medical condition where one doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. This results in reduced oxygen flow in tissues and organs of the body.

Meanwhile, Pernicious Anemia results from a deficiency of vitamin B-12. This type of Anemia is generally caused by the inability to absorb Vitamin B-12 required by the body to produce enough red blood cells.

Though being pretty rare in the general population, people aged above 60 have more chances of getting affected by Pernicious Anemia symptoms when compared.

Through this article, we will dig deeper into the topic and make sure we learn every bit about the pernicious definition, what is pernicious anemia, and much more.

What Does Pernicious Anemia Mean?

Pernicious Anemia

From different types of Anemia, this one is known as ‘Pernicious’ as it was considered deadly a while ago. The primary reason behind this was the lack of knowledge and treatment about the disease.

At present, the great researchers from across the globe have finally found some practical ways to treat the disease. In case you leave it the way it is, you might encounter severe complications in the body.

Being a rare medical condition, it is found only in .1 percent of the general population. Whereas, about 1.9 percent of the people aged above 60 years have a chance of getting affected by Pernicious Anemia.

Symptoms Of Pernicious Anemia

Researchers have found that one might not encounter the symptoms of Pernicious Anemia with ease. The progression process of these symptoms is pretty slow. This might be because, at a certain point, you become habitual of not feeling well.

Some of the common symptoms that doctors look forward are mentioned below:

  1. Regular weakness
  2. Uncertain headaches
  3. Mild to severe pain in the chest
  4. Weight loss

Not just these, some people might encounter some rare symptoms that include neurological symptoms. Some of these are mentioned below:

  1. Tightness and stiffness in the muscles
  2. Memory Loss, in some cases
  3. Feeling numbness in the arms and legs
  4. Unsteady gait
  5. Lesion of the spinal cord

Apart from the symptoms mentioned above, one can come across some other symptoms of the Vitamin B-12 deficiency, some of which are mentioned below:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Uncertain depression
  3. At times, constipation too
  4. Being confused
  5. Vomiting and nausea
  6. Heartburn

Pernicious Anemia Causes

We have discussed till now, how one can know if they have Pernicious Anemia, i.e., the symptoms of Pernicious Anemia. Now, let us throw some light on how pernicious anemia is caused. Mentioned below are some of the major reasons behind suffering from this disease.

  1. Lack Of Vitamin B-12

    The disease of Anemia is caused by the low levels of RBCs in one’s blood. Here, Vitamin B-12 plays a major role in the manufacturing of RBCs. Therefore, one is recommended to intake the required amount of Vitamin B-12. Some of the eatables that contain a good amount of Vitamin B-12 are:

    1. Poultry
    2. Shellfish
    3. Meat
    4. Dairy Products
    5. Eggs
    6. Nutritional Supplements, etc.
  2. Macrobytes

    Due to the deficiency of Vitamin B-12, our body produces comparatively large red blood cells. These are known by the name ‘Macrobytes.’ Due to their comparatively larger size, they are incapable of leaving the bone marrow where the red blood cells are made and enter one’s bloodstream. All this ultimately results in a reduced supply of blood cells that carry oxygen to the bloodstream. Therefore, one might encounter weakness and fatigue.
    In this way, you can say that Pernicious Anemia is a type of Macrobyte Anemia. Sometimes also known by the name ‘Megaloblastic Anemia’ only because they are comparatively larger.
    Apart from Pernicious Anemia, some other diseases caused by comparatively large red blood cells are mentioned below:

    1. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
    2. Chronic Alcoholism
    3. Vitamin B-9 deficiency (Folate)
  3. Lack Of IF

    To absorb Vitamin B-12, one needs to have a protein known as Intrinsic Factor (IF). This is produced in our stomach. When one consumes any eatery containing Vitamin B-12, it travels to the stomach and binds up with the Intrinsic Factor. At last, the two of them are absorbed by the small intestine.
    In the majority of the cases of Pernicious Anemia, the immune system of our body attacks and then destroys the cells that are responsible for the production of IF in the stomach. Therefore, resulting in unabsorbed Vitamin B-12 found in the eateries that we use in our day to day life, as mentioned above.

Difference Between B-12 Deficiency And Pernicious Anemia

People have often been found getting confused with deficiency of Vitamin B-12 caused by improper diet as Pernicious Anemia. Meanwhile, it is an autoimmune disorder, the result of intrinsic factor, and poor absorption of Vitamin B-12.

In cases of regular Anemia, one’s body has been found capable of absorbing Vitamin B-12. Whereas, in pernicious anemia, the body is not capable of absorbing vitamin B-12.

The deficiency of vitamin B-12 can be easily treated by improving the diet plan and injecting vitamin B-12 supplements.

The Risk From Pernicious Anemia

Though found rarely in a normal human, some of the individuals are more likely to catch the pernicious anemia when compared. The reasons for this are mentioned below:

  1. Being aged 60 years or more
  2. Being vegetarian
  3. Family history of the disease
  4. Being from Northern Europe
  5. Having few parts of your stomach or intestines removed
  6. Suffering from Type 1 diabetes
  7. Certain intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease

The factors mentioned above are some of the major reasons why an individual should be more concerned about catching pernicious anemia when compared to other normal people.

Diagnosis Of Pernicious Anemia

Your doctor would have to perform several tests to provide your diagnosis for pernicious anemia. Some of these tests are listed down below. Go through them once to understand them better:

  1. Intrinsic Factor Deficiency

    : This test is performed using one’s blood sample. The blood is used to test antibodies and various stomach cells.

  2. Deficiency of Vitamin B-12

    : This test is also performed using one’s blood sample. The doctor checks the level of Vitamin B-12 in the blood. Lower is the level of vitamin B-12, higher is the deficiency.

  3. Blood Count: This test is performed to check vitamin iron levels and B-12 levels in the blood serum.
  4. Biopsy: While diagnosing you with pernicious anemia, the doctor must be aware of the stomach walls of your body. Through biopsy, they remove a part of your stomach wall and observe them under a microscope. This aids them to look for any damage done to the stomach wall cells.

A person with a healthy immune system has antibodies. These are responsible for finding out the virus or bacteria. Once located, they invade them for removal and destruction.

Whereas, a person who has pernicious anemia, the antibodies can’t help in distinguishing between diseased and healthy tissue. In this case, the antibodies destroy the cells making intrinsic factor.

Now that we have known a lot about the diagnosis of pernicious anemia disease, let us discuss the treatment of the same.

Treatment Of Pernicious Anemia

The treatment of this disease has a pretty simple and two-step process. In simpler words, the doctor starts with the treatment of deficiency of vitamin B-12 and then treats iron deficiency, if found any.

To dig deeper, the treatment process of the disease includes:

  1. Injecting vitamin B-12 supplements (decreased over time)
  2. Complete the blood count in the patient’s body to measure vitamin B-12
  3. Measure iron levels in the blood serum
  4. Perform various blood tests to monitor replacement treatments

The supplements injected can be given offered on a daily or weekly basis based on the deficiency levels. These injections are reduced when the levels get normal. In the first few weeks of treatment, the doctor might ask you to avoid physical activities.

Once the B-12 levels get to normal, you need to get the dose once in a month. Also, after you have been injected enough, you will be advised to take regular doses of supplements in the form of pills or sprays.

Complications Faced IINn Pernicious Anemia

Not just normal, there might be some complications to be faced with pernicious anemia. The doctor might have to monitor you and perform tests for a long time as expected. This aids them in identifying the side effects of the disease and the treatment of the same. One of the most dangerous side effects found in a few people was that of gastric cancer.

You need not worry about that as if when checked at the start of cancer, it might get proper treatment before getting spread. This can be easily corrected with biopsies. Some other complications that can be caused by the disease are digestive tract problems, nerve damage, neurological symptoms, memory problems, etc.

Pernicious Anemia: Final Verdict

A lot of people suffering from pernicious anemia might require lifelong monitoring and treatment of the disease. Consult a doctor to understand your condition in a better and effective way. To know more about certain diseases and medical conditions, keep the following (website name)!

Joshua K. Lopez

I do take care of my health so I do love writing many articles over health and care.