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Pernicious anemia: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Anemia is a disease characterized by the lack of red blood cells in the body; its function is to supply oxygen to the entire body’s tissues. Specifically, in pernicious anemia, also called megaloblastic anemia, the decrease in red blood cells occurs when the intestines cannot properly absorb vitamin B12, a necessary nutrient for their development. In most cases, this is caused by an autoimmune reaction. At FastlyHealwe give you all the details about pernicious anemia, causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Causes of pernicious anemia

Vitamin B12 is obtained by consuming foods like red meat, liver, eggs, milk and its derivatives, bluefish, and shellfish, among others. The body needs this nutrient to make red blood cells. To absorb it, stomach cells must secrete a particular protein called intrinsic factor (FI), which helps the intestines assimilate vitamin B12. When the stomach does not produce enough intrinsic factors, the intestines cannot absorb the nutrient.

This problem can occur mainly for the following reasons:

  • A weakening of the stomach lining, called atrophic gastritis, or other gastric problems such as Helicobacter pylori infections, Chron’s disease, or a diet low in vitamin B12.
  • As a consequence of certain autoimmune endocrine diseases such as type 1 diabetes, thyroid problems, Addison’s disease, Graves disease, or vitiligo, among others.
  • When genetically transmitted and rare, the disease is called congenital pernicious anemia. Having a family history of it is a factor that increases the risk of suffering from it, but it is not a determining factor.

Generally, the disease is not detected in adults until after 30.

Symptoms of pernicious anemia

The intensity of the symptoms can be highly variable, depending on the case. Among them, we can find the following:

  • Difficulty breathing properly.
  • Fatigue, tiredness, and pale skin.
  • Diarrhea or constipation and poor appetite.
  • High heart rate
  • Mouth ulcers, swollen tongue, or bleeding gums.

In the long run, a lack of vitamin B12 in the body can cause damage to the nervous system, which can lead to confusion, loss of balance, tingling in the limbs, or depression.

Treatment of pernicious anemia

Treatment is aimed at increasing the levels of vitamin B12 in the body. To do this, he usually gets an injection of vitamin B12 once a month. You can also take oral supplements of the nutrient or administer it through the nasal route.

The treatments can be combined to achieve better results or choose only one of them, always depending on the patient’s condition. A balanced diet will be essential; Also, increasing the intake of folic acid, iron, and vitamin C can be of great help for the proper development of red blood cells. Neurological damage is dangerous, so making the diagnosis as soon as possible.

After applying the treatment, the prognosis is usually favorable. Gastric problems, caused by a lack of vitamin B12, make patients with pernicious anemia more prone to cancer in the digestive system. However, this condition does not usually cause significant complications.

Foods to increase vitamin B12

The ways to increase vitamin B12 in the body range from supplements combined with other group B complexes such as magnesium to a diet where the following foods abound:

  • Meats such as pork or beef liver.
  • Chicken is more recommended, as it contains fewer calories.
  • Eggs and dairy.
  • Although they should be included in your diet, vegetables are not the most significant source of vitamin B12; for this reason, vegetarians tend to be deficient in it.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Pernicious anemia: causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our category of Blood, heart and circulation .

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