Pernicious anemia is a kind of an anemia in which the body is unable to produce or make enough healthy red blood cells because it may be lacking on Vitamin B12. The body needs this vitamin in order to make healthy blood cells and to keep the proper functioning and working of the nervous system.
This nutrient is found in many foods and those people who have pernicious anemia cannot absorb the vitamin from these foods because these people lack intrinsic factor which is a kind of a protein which is found in the stomach.
There are two types of pernicious anemia and they are called macrocystic anemia and megaloblastic anemia. Both these terms refer to an anemia in which the red blood cells are larger than normal size. There is another form of pernicious anemia in which children are born with an inherited disorder that prevents their bodies from producing the intrinsic factor and this type of anemia is termed as congenital pernicious anemia.
Causes of Pernicious Anemia
Besides the lack of intrinsic factor, there can be other causes for pernicious anemia too. Read on to follow on:
- Lack of intrinsic factor-intrinsic factor is a protein which is created or made in the stomach. This protein helps the body in absorbing vitamin B12. And when the body cannot absorb this important vitamin, pernicious anemia is caused. Thus the most common cause of this disease is the lack of intrinsic factor in our bodies.
- Malabsorption in the small intestine-in many cases, pernicious anemia may result due to the malabsorption of food in the small intestine. This may happen due to many reasons such as wrong kind of bacteria in the intestine, due to celiac disease, due to intake of certain types of medicines and due to certain surgical removal of part of the small intestine.
- Diet lacking in vitamin B12-another cause of pernicious anemia is the intake of diet lacking on vitamin B12. Some good food sources for this vitamin include breakfast cereals, meats like beef, poultry, fish and liver, eggs, soy based foods etc.
Who is at Risk of Pernicious Anemia?
The following are the people who are at the highest risk of pernicious anemia
- Those who have a family history of this disease
- Those who have had a part of their stomach surgically removed.
- Those who have an autoimmune disorder which is related to the endocrine gland.
- Those who have had a part of their small intestine removed through a surgical procedure.
- Those who take medicines which prevent the body form absorbing vitamin B12 properly.
- Those who are strict vegetarians and do not like to eat any dairy or animal products.
- Those who have any kind of intestinal disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia
The following are the main signs of pernicious anemia
- Fatigue is the most common sign of pernicious anemia
- Shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness and feeling colds in the hands and feet
- Chest pain and pale yellowish skin.