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One of the main symptoms of pernicious anemia, caused by the lack of vitamin B12, is the sensation of being in the middle of a fog, being a sensation difficult to explain in which one feels lack of concentration and clarity in everything that is happening around.
Often this sensation is described as being in the middle of a very heavy fog in which the body has difficulty responding to what you want to do.
In addition, other very common symptoms such as:
- Excessive tiredness and difficult to explain;
- Feeling short of breath;
- Swollen tongue;
- Feeling full stomach;
- Weak nails that break easily;
- Irritability, impatience, or sudden mood swings;
- Decreased libido.
Another very common symptom is the urge to eat something out of the ordinary, like dirt or leaves, for example. This change in appetite is known as pica and usually occurs when the body needs some vitamins and minerals.
In more advanced cases of pernicious anemia, nerve damage can occur, causing tingling sensations in various parts of the body, especially hands and feet.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of pernicious anemia can be made through physical examination and evaluation of the family history, since this type of anemia is common in several members of the same family. In addition, a blood test may be needed to assess the amount of red blood cells in the blood, which is reduced in anemia.
In addition, the doctor may also order a urine test to assess the amount of vitamin B12 in the body, as the decrease in red blood cells only indicates anemia, which can also happen for other reasons. See the main types of anemia.
In some cases, a doctor may diagnose anemia and recommend iron supplementation without assessing B12 levels. This is because iron deficiency anemia is the most common, however, when anemia does not cure, even with supplementation, the doctor may begin to suspect other types of anemia and order new tests.
How does pernicious anemia arise
Pernicious anemia occurs when there is a lack of vitamin B12 in the body, as this vitamin is very important for the production of he althy red blood cells that carry oxygen in the blood.
However, this decrease in the amount of vitamin B12 can have several causes such as:
- Diet low in vitamin B12: it is more common in vegetarians because the foods richest in vitamin B12 are meat, milk, eggs and cheese, for example;
- Stomach reduction, as in the case of bariatric surgery: this type of procedure reduces the stomach's ability to absorb some vitamins and minerals;
- Chronic inflammation of the stomach, as in gastritis or ulcer: the inflamed lining of the stomach reduces the absorption of vitamins;
- Lack of intrinsic factor: it is a protein that helps the stomach to more easily absorb vitamin B12 and that may be decreased in some people.
Although it is a problem that causes many symptoms, pernicious anemia can be easily treated in about 1 month with adequate vitamin B12 supplementation. Learn more about treating this type of anemia.