What is Pernicious Anemia ?
The Pernicious Anemia is a combination of two words: “Pernicious” and “Anemia”. The former, “Pernicious”, means something which is destructive and deadly, whereas the later, Anemia”, is a defined as the lack of red cells or hemoglobin in the body. Rapid loss of blood, such as injuries, also causes anemia. The importance of red blood cells can be judged from the fact that they have an important task of transporting the oxygen to the cells via blood.
The term “Pernicious Anemia” is a kind of disease caused by the loss of parietal cells, which subsequently results in the ability to absorb the Vitamin B12. The cells affected by this disease circulate in the blood and do not function as blood cells. In most cases it has been observed that people suffering from anemia ultimately died.
The ability to absorb the Vitamin B12 is accelarated by the loss of intrinsic factor. The intrinsic factor may be defined as the ability to absorb the Vitamin B12 from the gastrointestinal tract. Decrese in production of the gastric acid also slows down the Vitamin B12 absorption. Initially, the Pernicious Anemia was considered a fatal disease, with no treatment available. The disease was known only when the disease worsened. However, with the passage of time, techniques such as the artificial absorption of Vitamin B12 by injection or through supplemental tablets helped the people in combating this disease.
However, once the Intrinsic factor is impaired, then the patient permanently lacks the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 for rest of his or her life. Timley replenishment of Vitamin B12 stores can help the patient to keep the Pernicious Anemia in chec, otherwise the patient might suffer a peripheral nervous damage.
Signs and Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia
As mentioned above, the “Pernicious Anemia” stems from the inability of the patient to absorb the Vitamin B12 caused by the loss of the Intrinsic Factor. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result I severe implications, such as the lack of red blood cells or anemia and damage to the nervous system. Compared with rest of the vitamins, the Vitamin B12 is found in large quantities in the human body. Lack of this vital Vitamin may take many years to replenish.
Lack of Vitamin B-12 affects the nervous system badly. The symptoms of this deficiency is sometimes apparent before the signs of anemia or hemoglobin is established. Some of the typical symptoms associated with the lack of Vitamin B12 are: weakness, mind distracted, lacking concentration and focusing ability, numbness, loss of memory, personality changes, different gait and many others. Since it affects the nervous system, both halves of the body respond to this affect. Legs are more affected, which can be witnessed by observing the gait. A severe or prolonged affect can lead to a permanent nerve damage.
Generally it has been observed that lack of Vitamin B12 results in anemia, however, this may not hold true for most of the times. Not all people suffering shortage of adequate levels of Vitamin B12 may necessarily suffer from Anemia. The symptoms of Anemia are more apparent which are: short breath or difficulty in breathing, signs of dizziness, tongue looks shiny and smooth, and skin color changing to pale yellow. The heart is stressed to pump more oxygen to all the cells and body tissues, resulting in murmuring and faster heart beat. In the worst case scenario, the patient is at the risk of heart failure. The risk of stomach cancer is usually higher in people suffering from Pernicious Anemia.
Some other sign and symptoms observed during the lack of Vitamin B-12 are:
- Reflexes becoming sluggish and unresponsive.
- Low blood pressure or high blood pressure.
- An increased heart rate.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Signs of swollen red tongue.
Diagnostic and Treatment
Pernicious Anemia can be diagnosed through a number of laboratory tests. Some of these tests include:
- Complete count of blood cells, the number of red blood cells is calculated and compared with the threshold figure.
- Microscopic inspection of a blood drop, usually associated with the blood cell count as mentioned above.
- It is recommended always to contact your health care Doctor, who is well aware of your physical health history. He can have a better grasp of your health state.
- The Vitamin B-12 level in the blood is calculated through laboratory tests. if its found lower than the average, then the doctor may suggest you either the Vitamin B-12 supplements or injection.
- The presence of stomach lining cells is tested.
- Iron levels in the blood is calculated. The lack of Vitamin B-12 may result in lower iron binding capacity.
- Folate level is checked and compared with past levels. It goes down with Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
- In case a bone marrow disorder is experienced, then a bone marrow test is carried out to check if the patient is suffering from Pernicious Anemia or not.
There is no permanent treatment of Pernicious Anemia. The only treatment for this disease is a continuous supply of Vitamin B-12 to the body. This can be either in form of any oral supplement or injection. The adequate level of Vitamin B12 must be restored to make up for the deficiency. If this deficiency is left untreated, then the Pernicious Anemia patient may die of lack of Vitamin B-12. A stable diet of Vitamin B-12 sources must be taken in substantial quantities to keep the levels up in the body.
Vitamin B-12 can be sourced from a variety of foods, such as meat, fish, milk and poultry. For vegetarians, the only solution is through taking oral Vitamin B-12 supplements. Generally, an oral intake dose of 100 to 200 microgram of Vitamin B-12 supplement is recommended. Pregnant women should take adequate quantities of Vitamin B-12 supplements to ensure a good health for their soon to be born babies.