Pernicious Anemia Treatment in Bristol, VA
Anemia occurs when your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to provide oxygen to your body tissues. There are different causes and types of anemia. When anemia is caused by your intestines improperly functioning, resulting in insufficient absorption of vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin), you suffer a specific autoimmune disorder called pernicious anemia. It is critical that you maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12, as this key vitamin plays an important function in metabolizing protein as well as forming red blood cells, maintaining the central nervous system and supporting overall energy levels.
Think you may have pernicious anemia? Schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in Bristol that can assist you with a pernicious anemia test. Call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
Pernicious Anemia Causes
To function properly, your body needs to produce red blood cells utilizing vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is often retrieved from such foods as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and dairy products. Your body needs a special protein called intrinsic factor (IF) to absorb vitamin B12—when your stomach doesn't make enough intrinsic factor, your intestine cannot properly absorb vitamin B12, which can result in pernicious anemia. Often heredity puts you at a greater risk of developing the disease; a greater threat is presented to those with a family history of pernicious anemia, or those who are of Scandinavian or Northern European descent. Other pernicious anemia causes include:
- Weakened intestinal lining
- Certain preexisting conditions including:
Pernicious Anemia Symptoms
Symptoms of pernicious anemia vary from nonexistent to mild as the condition is slow to progress. Common pernicious anemia symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Pale skin
- Concentration problems
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen, red tongue or bleeding gums
- Pica: an eating disorder causing you to eat non-nutritive items
Pernicious Anemia Diagnosis
If your healthcare provider suspects you suffer from pernicious anemia, a pernicious anemia diagnosis will consist of testing the levels of vitamin B12 in your body through a simple blood test. Further testing for pernicious anemia might include:
- Bone Marrow Tests: Analysis of the soft tissue inside your bones may be used if a diagnosis is unclear
- Complete Blood Count: A measure of your red and white blood cells, the amount of hemoglobin in your blood and the portion of composed of red blood cells
- Reticulocyte Count: A blood test that measures the percentage of reticulocytes (slightly immature red blood cells) in your blood
- Schilling Test: A test used to determine whether the body is absorbing vitamin B12 normally
- Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) Test: A test to measure the level of LDH in the blood, commonly to check for tissue damage
- Methylmalonic Acid Blood Test: A test that measures the amount of methylmalonic acid—a substance produced when proteins called amino acids break down in the body—in the blood
Pernicious Anemia Treatment
Commonly, pernicious anemia treatment focuses on increasing vitamin B12 levels through injections or oral supplementation. Frequency of injections or potency of supplements will depend on the extent of the deficiency. Your vitamin B12 levels will be routinely monitored through ongoing blood testing in order to adjust frequency and potency of your vitamin B12 treatment.
If your pernicious anemia is caused by something other than a failure to produce adequate intrinsic factor protein, such as a preexisting condition like type 1 diabetes, treatment will also focus on treating the root cause of the pernicious anemia.
Your healthcare provider will also likely recommend nutritional counseling to provide ongoing maintenance of healthy vitamin B12 levels through your dietary choices. These dietary recommendations may include incorporating foods such as eggs, tuna, salmon and grass-fed beef routinely into your diet.
The lack of vitamin B12 in your blood can be hazardous to your health, and addressing poor red blood cell counts is important. Schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in Bristol that can assist you with a pernicious anemia test. Call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
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