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  Pernicious anemia

Pernicious anemia is a type of autoimmune anemia that is caused by the body’s inability to absorb vitamin B 12. The body produces antibodies that attack the intrinsic factor and the parietal cells. Parietal cells are found in the stomach lining. They produce intrinsic factor, which is a glycoprotein that enables the small intestine to process vitamin B 12. This anemia is the most common blood disorder.

Pernicious anemia
Pernicious anemia


Symptoms:

Symptoms of pernicious anemia are due to the lack of B 12 and include sore tongue, mouth ulcers, mental fogginess, fatigue, joint pain and tinnitus.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis of pernicious anemia is determined by the results of the following blood tests: a CBC, a peripheral blood smear and the concentration of vitamin B 12 in the blood. A complete blood count or CBC can indicate the degree of anemia a person is experiencing by examining the size of the red blood cells. If they are larger than normal it is an indicator of pernicious anemia.

A peripheral blood smear involves smearing a drop of blood onto a slide and microscopic examination. The red blood cells will appear large and distorted - another indicator of pernicious anemia. Both folic acid, another B vitamin and B 12 levels are compared. Folic acid anemia has a different course of treatment than pernicious anemia.

Treatment:

Patients are given vitamin B 12 injections intramuscularly to rebuild vitamin B 12 levels in the liver. After B 12 has been stored in the liver, the patient will begin a quarterly or monthly series of injections. Some treatment can be given orally, the dose is up to 20 mg, daily of vitamin B 12.

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