Pernicious Anemia: How to Cope With This Pathology?

There is a variety of anemias that may affect the body. Pernicious anemia is related to the amount of Vitamin B12 present in the body.

The pernicious anemia or anemia by a deficiency of vitamin B12, also known as anemia of Addison, is characterized by a decrease in the amount of red blood cells in the blood due to the ability of the gastrointestinal system to absorb adequately the Vitamin B12 (or cobalamin).

Without a sufficient amount of vitamin B12, the body produces red blood cells are abnormally large (macrócitos). Due to their size, these cells may not be able to exit bone marrow and enter the bloodstream. This decreases the amount of red blood cells, oxygen carriers in the bloodstream.

This type of anemia is more frequent in the Northern regions of Europe and in the countries in the Scandinavian and affects mostly children up to 3 years of age or adults over the age of 30 years.


Pernicious anemia can be caused by the absence of an intrinsic factor (a protein) essential in the absorption of vitamin B12 in the gastrointestinal system.

This situation can be verified in the following cases:

  • Celiac disease;
  • Gastritis atopic (cause weakening of the inner lining of the stomach);
  • Hereditary factors;
  • Bariatric surgery;
  • Treatment of tuberculosis on the basis of acid-to-aminosalicílico;
  • Insufficient intake of foods that contain this vitamin;
  • The presence of intestinal parasites;
  • Autoimmune disease in which the antibodies of our body will destroy healthy cells and tissues of the body erroneously;
  • Veganism, without supplementation of cobalamin.

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Often other diseases may favor the appearance of this type of anemia, such as:

  • Diabetes;
  • Addison’s disease;
  • Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period);
  • Hyperthyroidism;
  • Graves ‘ disease;
  • Vitiligo;
  • Among others.


The symptomatology is very similar to the other types of anemiamay experience symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue;
  • Constant tiredness;
  • Headache;
  • The skin and mucous membranes pale;
  • Dyspnoea;
  • Tingling in hands and feet;
  • Imbalance;
  • Feeling of dizziness;
  • Dejeções net or periods of constipation;
  • Tongue edema (swelling) and ruborizada;
  • Gengivorragias (bleeding from gums);
  • Loss of appetite;
  • State of confusion;
  • Depression.


It is extremely important to seek medical help if you display some of the symptoms mentioned above, so as to be treated as soon as possible and avoid complications.

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The diagnosis of anemia is through blood tests (complete blood count) which allows to determine the value of the hemoglobin in the blood, and urine analysis (check the concentration of cobalamin in the urine).

The Schilling-Test measures the absorption of vitamin B12 radioactive with and without intrinsic factor. Consists of the administration of vitamin B12 radioactive oral route and two hours after it is applied to an injection containing vitamin B12 is not radioactive.

  • After 24 hours is collected from the urine and analyzed in the laboratory. If it is checked in the urine, low concentration of radiation, is administered to the intrinsic factor associated with the vitamin B12 three to seven days after the first test.
  • After 24 hours it is again collected and analyzed the urine and if there is correction of the concentration of vitamin B12 in the urine, the test is said to be positive for pernicious anemia.

However, to confirm that it is pernicious anemia it is necessary to use a digestive endoscopy, whose goal is to identify lesions in the stomach.


The main goal of treatment of this type of anemia focuses on increasing the levels of vitamin B12 in the body, this way it is quite common that patients have to take, at least once per month, an injection of vitamin B12.

In some cases, it may be necessary to resort to taking oral supplements of vitamin B12 and folic acid (prevents consequences to neural) as an alternative to injections.

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In addition, you should eat a balanced diet rich in foods that contain high levels of vitamin B12, such as red meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products and eggs, for example.


If you are faced with a picture of pernicious Anemia, if not treated in time, may arise some complications, among them:

  • Polyps gastric;
  • Cancer of one or more structures of the gastrointestinal system;
  • Neurological problems, sometimes irreversible;
  • Heart problems.