Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune condition that leads to a lack of red blood cells. A deficiency in vitamin B-12 causes it.

This article explains the symptoms of pernicious anemia, and how it differs from other types of anemia. It also discusses available treatments.

Pernicious anemia is a rare condition that of people are thought to be affected by, with a higher occurrence among those over 60 years of age.

A person with pernicious anemia may experience:

  • tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • shiny or smooth, red tongue
  • pale skin
  • chest pain
  • numb feeling in the hands or feet
  • balance difficulties
  • poor coordination
  • slow reflexes
  • confusion
  • depression

Tired senior woman who has pernicious anemia
Confusion, tiredness, and pale skin can be symptoms of pernicious anemia.

Pernicious anemia is a type of anemia, which is when a person is unable to make enough red blood cells. Pernicious anemia is the result of a problem with the immune system.

When a person has pernicious anemia, their gut does not absorb vitamin B-12 properly. This causes a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Up to with a vitamin B-12 deficiency may have pernicious anemia.

People find vitamin B-12 in the following foods:

  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • poultry
  • meat
  • shellfish

The body needs vitamin B-12 to produce red blood cells. Being deficient in vitamin B-12 means the body is unable to make enough red blood cells.

Red blood cells help carry oxygen around the body, and the body needs oxygen to function properly.

A lack of red blood cells means the body's tissues do not get enough oxygen. This shortage is what causes the symptoms of pernicious anemia.

Pernicious anemia is one type of vitamin B-12 anemia. It is a condition caused by a problem with the immune system.

There are a number of other types of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia, which have different causes.

Causes of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia may include:

Megaloblastic anemia

Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia, including pernicious anemia, is a type of megaloblastic anemia.

This name comes from the type of red blood cells or megaloblasts produced when a person is vitamin-B12 deficient. Megaloblasts are an abnormally large type of red blood cell.

Pernicious anemia puts additional stress on a person's heart. This is because it has to work harder to pump oxygenated blood around the body.

The additional stress on the heart may cause: