Symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia

There are several things to bear in mind when looking at the symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia:

  • The symptoms often develop (slowly) over many years. This means that doctors and patients might attribute the symptoms to advancing age or a busy modern lifestyle.
  • The symptoms vary in severity from patient to patient; some patients will have all or nearly all of the them while others will have just a few.
  • Many of the symptoms are associated with a wide range of other illnesses which contributes towards the problem with patients receiving a late diagnosis.
  • The following list includes most symptoms, though not all. Just because what you experience is not listed here doesn’t mean that it isn’t caused by Pernicious Anaemia.

Neurological Symptoms

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Paresthesia: abnormal sensation, typically tingling or pricking (‘pins and needles’)

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Numbness in hands and feet, reduced skin sensation

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Impaired fine finger movements

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Ataxic gait (unsteady, staggering gait)

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Balance problems/loss of sense of position

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Reduced or absent reflexes

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Clumsiness/lack of coordination

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Aphasia (problems with speaking, writing, reading)

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Sensory loss (loss of taste, smell or hearing)

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Positive Romberg sign (unable to maintain balance with eyes closed)

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Burning legs and/or feet

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Lhermitte’s sign (electric sensation that travels down your neck and back)

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Blurred vision

(Neuro) Psychiatric & Psychological Symptoms

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Memory and concentration problems

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Dementia, confusion

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Brain fog/decreased mental concentration

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Irritability, emotional lability

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Personality changes, mania, paranoia

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Depression

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Psychosis, delirium, paranoia

Anaemia or Anaemia-like Symptoms

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(Extreme) Fatigue

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Shortness of breath

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Dizziness/feeling faint/vertigo

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Postural hypotension (drop in blood pressure upon standing)

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Pallor

Gynecological and Urological Symptoms

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Infertility

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Loss of libido/impotence

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Menstrual problems/pains

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Incontinence

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Cystitis, bladder inflammation, bladder infections

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Pyelonephritis (kidney infection)

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

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Loss of apetite

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Glossitis (pain, redness, swelling in mouth and tongue)

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Diarrhoea

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Weight loss

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Nausea, vomiting

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Stomach problems, heartburn, discomfort

Other Symptoms

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Fever

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Sleep disturbance

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Tinnitus

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Hair loss/premature grey hair

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Brittle nails

Ongoing Symptoms

It is widely assumed that once that deficiency is corrected then the patient will feel well again and his or her symptoms will disappear. Whilst this happens with some patients the vast majority of members of the Pernicious Anaemia Society will still experience symptoms with various degrees of intensity. Some will not experience any lessening of the symptoms and will be faced with having to make some life-changing decisions relating to their work and family life. Others will see a lessening of their symptoms and some will see their symptoms disappear altogether. Nobody knows for sure why this is so but it is likely that the later the patient received his or her diagnosis the less likely it is that the symptoms will be alleviated once replacement therapy injections of B12 have been given. Another reason for continuing symptoms could be found in the possibility of co-existing conditions (other auto-immune conditions) or co-existing deficiencies (folate, iron) that are regulalry found in patients with Pernicious Anaemia. Read more

See also our Symptoms Checklist

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