Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. There are many types of anemia.
Pernicious anemia is a decrease in red blood cells that occurs when the intestines cannot properly absorb vitamin B12.
Macrocytic achylic anemia; Congenital pernicious anemia; Juvenile pernicious anemia; Vitamin B12 deficiency (malabsorption); Anemia - intrinsic factor; Anemia - IF; Anemia - atrophic gastritis; Biermer anemia; Addison anemia
Pernicious anemia is a type of vitamin B12 anemia. The body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells. You get this vitamin from eating foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products.
A special protein, called intrinsic factor (IF), binds vitamin B12 so that it can be absorbed in the intestines. This protein is released by cells in the stomach. When the stomach does not make enough intrinsic factor, the intestine cannot properly absorb vitamin B12.
Common causes of pernicious anemia include:
In rare cases, pernicious anemia is passed down through families. This is called congenital pernicious anemia. Babies with this type of anemia do not make enough intrinsic factor. Or they cannot properly absorb vitamin B12 in the small intestine.
In adults, symptoms of pernicious anemia are usually not seen until after age 30. The average age of diagnosis is age 60.
You are more likely to develop this disease if you:
Certain diseases can also raise your risk. They include:
Pernicious anemia can also occur after gastric bypass surgery.
Some people do not have symptoms. Symptoms may be mild.
They can include:
If you have a low vitamin B12 level for a long time, you can have nervous system damage. Symptoms can include:
The goal of treatment is to increase your vitamin B12 level:
Edith Lahner is in Rome, Italy. Lahner is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Pernicious Anemia. She is also highly rated in 17 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Pernicious Anemia, Gastritis, Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, and Helicobacter Pylori Infection.
Julia Chang is in Taiwan. Chang is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Pernicious Anemia. She is also highly rated in 19 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Folate-Deficiency Anemia, Vitamin B12 Deficiency, Pernicious Anemia, and Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia.
Chun-pin Chiang is in Taiwan. Chiang is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Pernicious Anemia. They are also highly rated in 27 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Folate Deficiency, Folate-Deficiency Anemia, Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, and Vitamin B12 Deficiency.
Most people often do well with treatment.
It is important to start treatment early. Nerve damage can be permanent if treatment does not start within 6 months of symptoms.
People with pernicious anemia may have gastric polyps. They are also more likely to develop gastric cancer and gastric carcinoid tumors.
People with pernicious anemia are more likely to have fractures of the back, upper leg, and upper forearm.
Brain and nervous system problems may continue or be permanent if treatment is delayed.
A woman with a low B12 level may have a false positive Pap smear. This is because vitamin B12 deficiency affects the way certain cells (epithelial cells) in the cervix look.
Call your provider if you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
There is no known way to prevent this type of vitamin B12 anemia. However, early detection and treatment can help reduce complications.
Published Date: February 06, 2020
Published By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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