What are the symptoms of pernicious anemia?

Symptoms of pernicious anemia include general fatigue and weakness, digestive symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea, and neurological symptoms such as confusion, depression, loss of balance, or numbness. Neurological symptoms are serious and may indicate persistent anemia that should be treated promptly.

General symptoms of pernicious anemia

Mild pernicious anemia may occur without noticeable symptoms. In moderate cases of pernicious anemia, general symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pale skin or pallor
  • Poor concentration
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness (loss of strength)

Digestive system symptoms of pernicious anemia

In addition to causing general symptoms, pernicious anemia can affect the digestive system and lead to symptoms including:

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, pernicious anemia can cause serious neurological problems that should be promptly evaluated. Seek prompt medical care if you, or someone you are with, have any of these serious neurological symptoms of pernicious anemia including:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Loss of balance
  • Memory loss
  • Numbness or tingling in arms or legs


What is pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia is a condition in which the body produces insufficient numbers of red blood cells because the intestines cannot absorb vitamin B12 properly. Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. This disorder occurs due to low levels of a protein called intrinsic factor, which is released by stomach cells and is necessary for the absorption of vita... Read more about pernicious anemiaintroduction


What causes pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia is caused by the lack of a protein called intrinsic factor. This protein, which is produced by cells in the stomach lining, is essential for proper absorption of dietary vitamin B12 in the intestines. Low levels of intrinsic factor are often the result of an autoimmune condition, in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own stomach cells. Rarely, infants are born ... Read more about pernicious anemiacauses


How is pernicious anemia treated?

For most patients with pernicious anemia, the condition is readily treated, and the prognosis is excellent. Treatment of pernicious anemia involves the administration of vitamin B12 injections, typically on a monthly basis. In some cases, taking very high doses of vitamin B12 supplements by mouth may be effective, although in general, low levels of intrinsic factor limit the absorption of oral ... Read more about pernicious anemiatreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation