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What is Adult Onset Pernicious Anemia?

written by: AlyssaAst • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 10/26/2009

In the rare blood disorder known as adult onset pernicious anemia, the body does not properly use the vitamin B12. This condition often goes undiagnosed for many years, which can lead to serious complications.

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    Adult Onset Pernicious Anemia

    Adult onset pernicious anemia occurs when the body is incapable of correctly using the vitamin B12. When the body can not correctly use this vitamin, the red blood cells may not develop properly. The main cause for the B12 to not work properly is a lack of gastric protein. If there is not enough gastric protein, the B12 cannot properly be absorbed.

    Although this condition is present at birth, it usually goes undiagnosed for many years. This condition's symptoms usually appear no sooner than the age of 30, but there are juvenile forms of this condition. It usually begins very slowly, and over the years, it becomes more severe. If the disease goes undiagnosed for numerous years, many medical complications can occur. Neurological problems are common as pernicious anemia develops because the blood cells and nerves require vitamin B12 to function correctly. It is classified as an autoimmune disorder.

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    Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia

    Although this condition usually is not diagnosed until adulthood, it does produce many symptoms. Many people with this condition experience weakness and fatigue. Chest pains, rapid heart beat, and heart beat abnormalities are also symptoms. Stomach upset can occur as well. People with pernicious anemia often battle reoccurring episodes of anemia and jaundice.

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    Treatment for Pernicious Anemia

    Treatment for this condition generally includes additional vitamins added into the body. This is often done using injections or pills. Once treatment begins, the symptoms usually quickly disappear.

    People with this condition are often given vitamin B12 pills. This treatment is often very beneficial to people with this disorder. The B12 can also be administered through an injection. The shots can be given weekly or daily, and even monthly. Often, both treatments are used because the body needs a high dosage in order to absorb it. Other treatment options can include the B12 given as a nasal spray. The condition can also be treated through a well balanced diet.

    If this disorder is left untreated, the anemia can progress to causing other complications. Heart and nerve damage can occur. In order to prevent these conditions, it is important to seek correct treatment options.

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    References:

    “Anemia, Pernicious" May 27, 2008 WebMD.com

    “Pernicious Anemia" Medicine Net



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