Here’s a checklist of all signs and symptoms of Pernicious Anemia. Keep in mind, severity and frequency vary among patients. Some people show just a few, others may experience the entire spectrum. As a general rule, the more Pernicious Anemia symptoms you have, the more likely you are to have a diagnosis of PA.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia
- Shortness of breath. Are you out of breath easily? Do you often gasp for air or feel as if you need to stop and take a deep breath?
- Extreme fatigue. Do you feel an overwhelming sense of tiredness that grips you almost 24/7? Do you wake up tired in the morning?
- Skin problems. Psoriasis, eczema, or acne? Do you see any dry skin or white patches (vitiligo) anywhere on your body? Red skin around your nose/cheeks (rosacea)?
- Brain fogs. Find it hard to concentrate? Do you often feel fuzzy or confused? Do you experience dementia-like symptoms — perhaps tend to forget things like the names of common objects, and/or leave items in the wrong place?
- Clumsiness. Do you drop or tend to bump into things? Do you feel as if your coordination is impaired (also referred to as ataxia)?
- Brittle, flaky nails. Are your nails frail and/or flaky?
Neurological Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia
- Tingling. Feel any pins and needles (can be anywhere, but most common in the hands/feet)? Do you feel a sensation as if a spider crawls on top of your face?
- Numbness. Do parts of your body tend to become numb often?
- Impaired balance. Feeling unsteady? Having problems putting on your underwear? Do you bump into walls with your shoulder? Have difficulties trying to stand up straight when it’s dark or with eyes closed? Do you have to hold onto something while showering? Feel a sense of vertigo when you’re at heights or a wide open space, and your only way to cope is to look at the floor while walking?
- Dizziness. Do you often feel as if you’re about to faint?
- Hyperreflexia. Do you seem to have exaggerated reflexes?
- Loss of senses. Are your smell, touch, taste and/or vision senses impaired?
- Burning legs and/or aching feet. Burning feet syndrome / Grierson-Gopalan syndrome.
- Widespread pain. Do you experience Fibromyalgia or neuropathic pain? Most often, the pain only affects one side of the body.
- Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus). The ringing may also sound like clicking, hissing, or roaring. This is very common in the overall population as well, but could be the result of nerve damage in the brain due to Pernicious Anemia.
Other Signs of Pernicious Anemia
- Cracked or swollen tongue. Is you tongue cracked? Perhaps swollen and beefy? The latter is known as the “Pernicious Anemia Tongue”.
- Mouth ulcers. Do you have ulcers, especially on the inside of your cheeks?
- Bleeding gums. Common in the general population as well, but another oral symptom of Pernicious Anemia.
- Diarrhea. Sudden and explosive, and very often after experiencing constipation or flatulence for some time.
- Loss of appetite. Did you lose your appetite, and as a result lost weight?
- Digestion issues. Do you experience anything unusual in your gastrointestinal tract? Do you see any ‘floating poop’?
- Incontinence. Are you often unable to control urination and defecation?
- Irritability. Feel impatient and frustrated? Do you often seek to isolate yourself for peace, to escape the overwhelmingness of noise and people?
- Irregular heartbeat. Do you have a fast or slow heartbeat? Also called arrhythmia.
- Depression. Feel as if there’s a cloud of sadness that never leaves?
- Sudden, unusual mood swings. Do you experience any changes of mood that are completely out of your character?
- Sleep issues. Can’t fall asleep at night even though you’re exhausted? Do you often have to sleep during the day for hours?
- Sexual problems. Any loss of libido? Even infertility is reported, in both sexes. Women may also experience menstrual issues.
- Hair loss. Are you losing hair? Is it greying prematurely? Hair loss is one of the most worrisome symptoms of Pernicious Anemia.
- Thyroid issues. Do you have over (hyper) or under (hypo) thyroidism? Thyroid symptoms are almost exclusively among women.
Pernicious Anemia Co-morbidities
Pernicious Anemia is rarely exclusive, and often comes with other co-existing morbidities. The impairment of the methylation cycle, for example, leaves PA patients with Hyperhomocysteinemia (very high, harmful levels of homocysteine).
By the way, this is why we recommend methylcobalamin shots as the ultimate Pernicious Anemia treatment. Methylcobalamin offers methyl donors to eliminate the excessive homocysteine, addressing both diseases in a single treatment.
Remember, Pernicious Anemia is an autoimmune disease, where the body produces antibodies and attempts to destroy itself. The thing is, autoimmune diseases tend to come together, and many PA patients will also have:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
- Diabetes Type 1.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Psoriatic arthritis.
- Coeliac disease.
- Myasthenia Gravis (weak muscles making it hard to swallow/chew/open eyes).
- Grave’s disease (overactive thyroid, aka Hyperthyroidism).
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (underactive thyroid, aka Hypothyroidism).
That means the symptoms above are not exclusive to Pernicious Anemia. And that makes misdiagnosis or late diagnosis common problems.
Pernicious Anemia Symptoms In Children
Although Pernicious Anemia normally strikes at older ages, there’s a rare congenital form of PA where babies are born without the ability to produce Intrinsic Factor. The signs are usually clear — and as early as a few months into the baby’s life — and include:
- General sense of weakness.
- Inability to sleep.
- Digestive problems.
- Lack of appetite, often profound.
- Failure to thrive.
- Pale complexion.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Yellow tone to the skin.
- Mental retardation.
- Blood protein present in the urine.
Do PA Symptoms Ever Disappear?
Remember, the cause of Pernicious Anemia is the body being unable to absorb B12 through the stomach. As a result, your symptoms will become more and more severe unless you start injecting to correct the B12 deficiency. If caught early, however, symptoms may disappear completely. Most patients though are diagnosed late, so symptoms persist to some degree, sometimes more, sometimes less.
With proper B12 injection therapy, you’re doing your best to stop deteriorating and improve. The earlier you start, the more likely the symptoms are to disappear. Risk of overdose does not exist, because B12 is water-soluble — any excess is flushed out through urine. If you show symptoms — especially neurological, which often mean a severe deficiency — waiting for diagnosis could make things worse.
Did you know? Vitamin B12 is responsible for the formation of Myelin, a protective sheath guarding your nerves. If deficiency is severe, you start experiencing neurological symptoms as the sheath gets damaged. Myelin damage is often irreversible, but with injections you can at least stop deteriorating.
Pernicious Anemia Symptoms: Warning
The signs and symptoms of Pernicious Anemia develop in a gradual, subtle way over years. If and when they afflict you, you’ll naturally tend to blame ‘aging’. As a result, you may never mention anything to your doctor. That is dangerous, and if you experience any Pernicious Anemia symptoms, immediately begin diagnosis. Don’t wait a second.
Also, don’t use this page as a definitive Pernicious Anemia symptoms list for self-diagnosis. If you suspect you may have PA, go and perform the correct tests.