Pernicious anemia develops when the body is unable to absorb the vitamin B-12 it needs from food because of a lack of a protein, called intrinsic factor, produced by the stomach.
This type of anemia can be detected through a blood test because of the presence of large amounts of immature red blood cells in your blood. Immature red blood cells cannot transport oxygen effectively.
The cause for pernicious anemia can be a lack of food in your diet that contains vitamin B12 or a lack of intrinsic factor in your stomach.
Usually, it takes a minimum of five years for the pernicious anemia to develop. The severity of the condition depends upon the vitamin B12 quantity that is stored in your body.
People who have pernicious anemia often feel fatigue and weak due to insufficient quantity of oxygen supply to the body. However, if left untreated, this condition can lead to serious problems for the heart, nerves, and other parts of the body.
In you, with anemia, the heart has to work more hard to pump blood in order to get sufficient oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues.
The stress on the heart can lead to heart murmur (an unusual sound heard during the heartbeat), an enlarged heart, irregular heartbeats, or even heart failure.
However, a lack of vitamin B12 (pernicious anemia) can cause additional problems for the heart as it increases the level of a chemical called homocysteine in the body.
The high levels of homocysteine in the body can lead to an increase of fatty deposits in blood vessels. Thereby, it leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Pernicious anemia can damage your nerve cells and cause problems such as itchy and numbness in hands and feet and problem with walking and balancing. Even it causes changes in taste, smell, and vision. Moreover, it can lead to memory loss and confusion.
It also changes the surface of the tongue and will reduce or thin the size of stomach lining. Any changes in the stomach can put you at risk for stomach cancer.
Therefore, it is good to have vitamin B12 more in your diet. Vitamin B12 is available more in animal products (meat and poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products) than vegetables.
To treat pernicious anemia, also take folacin in large amounts to help red blood cells to grow in the right shape and size.
The absorption of dietary vitamin B12 occurs in the small intestine and requires a secretion from the stomach known as intrinsic factor. If intrinsic factor is deficient, absorption of vitamin B12 is severely diminished.
Without intrinsic factor in stomach, you can still be with vitamin B12 deficiency although you consume foods rich in vitamin B12 (More info on Vitamin B12).
Vitamin B12-intrinsic factor oral medicine can be used to treat pernicious anemia. Also, it is used to increase intrinsic factor in the stomach.
So, spotting the condition early and treating it quickly may reduce the effects of pernicious anemia.