Pernicious Anemia is a form of anemia caused by a lack of intrinsic factor, a substance needed to absorb vitamin B12 from the gastrointestinal tract. People with pernicious anemia loose their ability to make intrinsic factor, a substance that enables vitamin B12 to be absorbed from the intestine. As a result Vitamin B12 deficiency results.
This condition may be hereditary as in congenital pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is also seen in association with some autoimmune endocrine diseases such as type 1 diabetes, hypoparathyroidism, Addison’s disease, hypopituitarism, testicular dysfunction, Graves disease, chronic thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, secondary amenorrhea, vitiligo, and candidiasis.
Treatment of Pernicious Anemia
Vitamin B12 injections are the definitive treatment for this disorder. When treatment is initiated, 5 to 7 injections may be given in a short span of time. Response to this therapy is usually seen within 48 to 72 hours, so there is usually no need for blood transfusions as a treatment for very low blood counts. Life–long therapy (with vitamin B12 injections every month or two) is needed for this disorder. Oral (by mouth) vitamin B12 is not recommended because it will not produce the desired response (the problem is an inability to ABSORB vitamin B12, not a lack of the vitamin in the diet). A well–balanced diet is essential to provide other components for healthy blood cell development such as folic acid, iron, and vitamin C.