Frequently Asked Questions
About Pernicious Anaemia
What is Pernicious Anaemia ?
What are the symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia ?
A full list of symptoms can be found here
How is Pernicious Anemia Diagnosed ?
If the test is positive, then it is 95% certain that the patient will have Pernicious Anaemia. However, it will identify only 50% – 70% of patients with the antibodies. So, if you test positive for the antibody you will almost certainly have Pernicious Anaemia. But is it is negative it does NOT rule our Pernicious Anaemia.
What is the treatment for Pernicious Anaemia ?
Vitamin B12 injections are still the preferred method of treating Pernicious Anaemia. There are many other types of treatments available including sub-lingual sprays, drops and lozenges along with skin patches and nasal sprays but the efficacy and cost–effectiveness of oral treatment in wider population-based settings has yet to be established.
For people with neurological involvement:
Initially administer hydroxocobalamin 1 mg intramuscularly on alternate days until there is no further improvement, then administer hydroxocobalamin 1 mg intramuscularly every 2 months.
For people with no neurological involvement:
Initially administer hydroxocobalamin 1 mg intramuscularly three times a week for 2 weeks, then administer hydroxocobalamin 1 mg intramuscularly every 2–3 months for life.
What is Vitamin B12 ?
What's the difference between B12 Deficiency and Pernicious Anaemia ?
Pernicious Anaemia is caused by either the patient not producing Intrinsic Factor that is needed to bind with vitamin B12 from food before it enters the blood stream or the Intrinsic Factor is being produced but is then destroyed by antibodies to the Intrinsic Factor – auto-immune Pernicious Anaemia. Because the patient is either not producing Intrinsic Factor or is destroying the Intrinsic Factor that has been produced the B12 cannot be absorbed from food.
What causes Pernicious Anaemia?
Can I treat myself at home ?
Can children have Pernicious Anaemia ?
Can Pernicious Anaemia cause depression or anxiety ?
Does Pernicious Anaemia only affect the elderly ?
Does Pernicious Anaemia run in families ?
Is Pernicious Anaemia linked to other diseases ?
Does Pernicious Anaemia lower your immune system ?
What happens if you do not treat Pernicious Anaemia ?
What is Anaemia ?
Today it is used by doctors to describe a reduction in the amount of haemoglobin or red blood cells in the blood. Haemoglobin is what carries oxygen in the blood. If you don’t have much haemoglobin or enough red blood cells then you will not be able to transport oxygen to wherever it is needed – which is just about everywhere in your body. There are many different causes of anaemia. It could be due to loss of blood from an accident or chronic bleeding due to an ulcer or haemorrhoids – haemorrhagic anaemia. It could be due to lack of iron which is needed to produce the haemoglobin – iron-deficiency anaemia. Another cause of anaemia is when red blood cells are destroyed (red blood cells contain the haemoglobin) by toxic chemicals, parasites (as in malaria) or conditions such as thalassaemia and sickle-cell anaemia. Another cause of anaemia is where the production of red blood cells is impaired as in leukaemia (when red blood cells in bone marrow are suppressed) or Pernicious Anaemia – haemolytic anaemias. Failing to produce red blood cells at all is another cause of anaemia – aplastic anaemia. So anaemia is caused by a lack of haemoglobin or red blood cells that transport oxygen around the body and the lack of haemoglobin or red blood cells could be due to one or more of several reasons. One of the causes for the impaired production of red blood cells is a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Why did it take so long for me to be diagnosed ?
Firstly, many doctors don’t specifically look for B12 deficiency and all too often believe that the symptoms patients complain of are associated with other diseases. Where doctors actively look for B12 deficiency they diagnose many more cases of B12 deficiency than doctors who aren’t actively looking for the deficiency.
Secondly there are problems associated with the current test used to measure the amount of B12 in the patient’s blood.
Thirdly, the test used to find out if the B12 deficiency is caused by Pernicious Anaemia is very insensitive and misses many cases.
Why do I still have symptoms even though I am receiving B12 injections ?
The honest answer is that nobody really knows. Many members receive much more frequent injections than those normally prescribed, while other use other forms of supplementation such as nasal sprays or sub-lingual lozenges and report that more frequent replacement therapy helps them. Others use further supplementation but still have the symptoms. The Pernicious Anaemia Society is working with clinicians and clinical researchers to promote research into why some patients need more injections than others and why symptoms can remain even when treated. If diagnosis and treatment has been delayed for a long time, some symptoms can become permanent due to neurological damage.
Will changing my diet help correct my B12 Deficiency ?
However, if your B12 deficiency is caused by Pernicious Anaemia then you cannot absorb B12 from food and changing your diet will not have any effect.