Pernicious Anaemia Society
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The Routes of B12 Deficiency

Let's try and clarify things a little here for newbies.

The initial symptoms of B12 deficiency are fatigue, loss of comprehension skills, altered (usually subdued) mood, fatigue, memory problems, mild dyslexia - which are on the psychological side. We also have this developing in some people into a few of the physical problems like numbness, tingling, slight loss of balance.

That's the short version but there are numerous other symptoms we know can help identify it.

There can be no doubt these symptoms are horrible. I've had them, just like all the other people on here, so I've been there and done that. I'm also left with some of these to one extent or another. For example I still have a lot of trouble with long strings of numbers, and I don't differentiate between words that have a lot of sticks in them - little and things like that. I also still have trouble with b &d s.

Yet most of us have been there - so anybody coming on this board, please realise that the people you are speaking to have already experienced what you are experiencing. It's not particularly pleasant to be talked down to when you have already been there and are trying to help others.

Now it has been established that 94% of people get their B12 deficiency picked up in these stages, when it hasn't progressed further, and, for the majority these symptoms are reversible. If you are given the correct treatment - which many people are not.

Yet that leaves us with 6% who don't get it picked up in time (I suspect it's many more but since they aren't identifying them then it is an 'unknown'.

What happens when the illness progresses further than the initial psychological symptoms is that it tends to follow, but not rigidly, one of two routes:

That of neurological effects

That of psychological effects

These lines usually blur somewhat (this is an illness which is not distinctive) but those that don't get it picked up will get either increasing psychological degeneration or increasing neurological degeneration. One leads to psychosis - in fact all the major mental health illnesses have been linked, so you may as well just pick one, and the other route is the neurological damage stemming from spinal cord degeneration.

This is what happens when you get past the initial symptoms.

However since 94% of people get it picked up early, they think this is the extent of the illness. Therefore they think these are the extent of the symptoms - the neurological becomes confused with the psychological. This is not correct. This illness will kill you if allowed to progress, it will either destroy your brain or your spinal cord.

This is a very difficult point to get across because for the majority of people it is picked up in the early stages. And, because those early stages are, in themselves, absolutely horrible (and remember I've been there as well so I know what I'm talking about) they think that is it.

The 6% of people who have suffered injury which has progressed further are getting lost in this mix - and they shouldn't be - because they are the ones which are being misdiagnosed with neurological conditions of unknown cause and psychiatric conditions which destroy their brains and lives.

It's important to remember this - because all of us are important - and this illness and its devastating effects have been overlooked many times and for many decades - and we are in danger of doing that again.

Remember that the initial psychological symptoms are only the start, as the illness progresses it will take a primarily neurological or more severe psychiatric route. Just because you got picked up early don't think it is a psychological illness, nor if you are one that followed the psychological route, and forget about the neurological problems.

I've put in this link to show you a photo

This is neurological degeneration due to B12 deficiency. This can, and does, still happen but rarely gets attributed to the illness because it is so overlooked. This type of damage cannot be swept under the carpet through ignorance.

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