Understanding Pernicious Anemia: How It Can Affect You
When you go to your primary care physician for mysterious symptoms, there are many conditions that you may fear you are suffering from. However, pernicious anemia may not be one of them. In fact, it is highly unlikely that, prior to your diagnosis, you had ever heard of pernicious anemia. This little-known ailment may actually be quite a bit more common than many people think or realize. Get to know more about pernicious anemia and how it can affect you so that you can best protect yourself from this health condition as well as get treatment if you do receive a diagnosis.
What Is Pernicious Anemia?
Pernicious anemia refers to a vitamin deficiency as well as the effects it has on the red blood cells in the body. This particular condition refers to the deficiency of vitamin B12 in the person;s system. While this term is often applied to any vitamin B12 deficiency that causes a decrease in the red blood cells, it is actually a specific condition with a genetic autoimmune component that hinders a person from being able to absorb vitamin B12 efficiently.
What Are The Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia?
Pernicious anemia is a condition that can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways. Usually, people will notice fatigue more prevalently than any other symptoms of this condition. Being dizzy or lightheaded may also be a symptom of this vitamin deficiency. This is due to low oxygenation in the blood so that the body is not fully nourished to run properly.
Other signs and symptoms that are more severe can include arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), heart murmurs, and even heart failure. You may also have abnormally pale skin, tingling in your extremities, shortness of breath, and stomach issues.
How Can You Treat Pernicious Anemia?
While the symptoms of pernicious anemia can become severe, it is a condition that is easily treatable. Treating pernicious anemia usually boils down to taking vitamin B12 injections and/or supplement pills. Depending on how low your vitamin B12 levels are upon diagnosis, your injections may occur anywhere between once a day and once a week.
If you happen to have another condition causing your body's inability to absorb vitamin B12, your doctor may also prescribe treatments for that condition as well to help balance everything out. Consuming more lean protein, eggs, cheese, and fortified cereal or fortified soy products like tofu that are also high in vitamin B12 can help boost your levels along with your other treatments. Many primary care physicians will recommend increasing these foods in your diet.
Now that you better understand pernicious anemia, you can be sure that you take better care of your health and keep your vitamin levels sufficient to maintain your health.