Pernicious anemia is associated with decrease in red blood cells, and the condition is associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. While the condition may exist, its symptoms don’t manifest till the third decade of life. As per estimates, the average age of diagnosis of this condition is 60 years and is more frequently observed in North European and Scandinavian population.
A protein referred to as the intrinsic factor is essential, to aid in the absorption of Vitamin B12 by the intestine. This protein is released by the granular cells along the stomach lining and inadequate productions can interfere with the intestines ability to absorb Vitamin B12.
Some of the causes that are linked with reduced production of intrinsic factor include,
- Atrophic gastritis i.e. weakened lining of the stomach.
- Autoimmune disorder that may cause the destruction of the protein and the cells that produce it.
Rarely, pernicious anemia is congenital in origin and associated with a family history. Additionally there are certain disease conditions that can increase the risk of the development of this condition, which include,
- Endocrinal disorder like Graves’ disease, thyroiditis, Addison’s disease, testicular dysfunction and hypopituitarism.
- Secondary amenorrhea
- Type I diabetes Mellitus
- Myasthenia Gravis
Symptoms Of Pernicious Anemia
In some cases, the condition may not be associated with any symptoms; however in most of the cases the following set of symptoms are present and usually mild in intensity,
- Diarrhea, constipation or diarrhea alternating with constipation.
- Reduced energy levels with fatigue and lightheadedness on slightest exertion.
- Reduced appetite
- Breathlessness which is aggravated on exertion.
- Pale skin with red and swollen tongue and bleeding gums.
- Inability to concentrate with increased irritability. In cases of prolonged and untreated pernicious anemia symptoms like depression and confusion may also be experienced.
- Tingling numbness in hands and feet is attributed to Vitamin B12 deficiency resulting in neuropathy.
Pernicious Anemia Diagnosis
Clinical evaluation and history taking can be indicative of anemia, however a series of tests need to be performed to confirm diagnosis of pernicious anemia. Some of the tests performed include,
- Blood tests like Complete Blood Count, Reticulocyte Count and Schilling Test.
- Lactate Dehydrogenase Test is also performed to check for pernicious anemia.
- Serum levels of Vitamin B12 can also point towards the condition.
- Bone marrow examination may be performed if the diagnosis is not clear.
Natural Remedies For Pernicious Anemia
The primary focus of the treatment is to supplement for the shortage of Vitamin B12 that may have occurred due to reduced absorption capacity of the intestine. Vitamin B12 injections once a month are usually recommended in severe cases, though high dose vitamin B12 may be useful in cases of mild to moderate symptoms.
Consuming a healthy and balanced diet is also useful in maintaining optimum levels of the vitamin. Include poultry, dairy products, egg, meat and shellfish in your diet. Usually the symptoms are alleviated within a few days of treatment. Permanent nerve damage can occur if the treatment is not started within six months of diagnosis.
Add two tablespoons of turmeric and raw honey to a glass of cold milk and consume twice a day. This will help deal with gastritis and improve the ability to the stomach to produce intrinsic factor, which in turn would improve the natural absorption of Vitamin B12 by the intestines.