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What are the early symptoms of pernicious anemia?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of pernicious anemia include fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, pale skin and difficulty concentrating, according to MedlinePlus. Shortness of breath; confusion; balance problems; swollen or red tongue; and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet may also occur. Some people with pernicious anemia have no symptoms.

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Full Answer

Pernicious anemia is a condition in which the body cannot make enough red blood cells because it does not have enough vitamin B12, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The two main causes of pernicious anemia are a lack of intrinsic factor or a problem absorbing vitamin B12 in the small intestine. Intrinsic factor is a substance found in gastric secretions that is required for vitamin B12 absorption, explains Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Certain people are at a higher risk for developing pernicious anemia, including those with a family history of the condition or those of Northern European or Scandinavian descent, states MedlinePlus. People with certain medical conditions, such as Graves disease, type 1 diabetes, Addison disease or myasthenia gravis, are also more likely to develop pernicious anemia. The treatment of pernicious anemia focuses on raising vitamin B12 levels, usually through vitamin B12 injections, oral supplements or nasal sprays. Eating a well-balanced diet is also recommended.

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