Pernicious Anaemia Society
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Pernicious anemia

I've been told by my doctor that my iron is really low so have been on iron tablets, my mum then told me that her grandmother died from pernicious anemia aged 46 , I'm ( 47 ) for the last few days I've felt sick had heartburn constantly, feel tired my stomach is bloated & im constipated also my gall bladder hurts all the time I'm worried I have it .. am going to the docs in the morning.. I did call the doctor after my mum had told me about her grandmother but they didn't call me back

2 Replies

Whoa there Dollycooper slow down a bit and stop worrying. Iron deficiency (for which you are taking tablets) and Pernicious Anaemia may share the same name "anaemia" but they are caused by different reasons.

Yes, P.A. can be inherited but that doesn't necessarily mean that you automatically are going to get it - and even if you do have it it is so easily treated because, believe me, I've had it for 45 years and I'm still "clivealive" at the age of 75.

The symptoms you describe may simply be a side effect of the iron pills. Make a list of them and present it to your doctor and mention again your concern about your grandmother's P.A. and he/she may test you for it by taking a separate specific blood tests.

For now though, stop worrying and if you have any more questions come back here, there are some lovely people who will be able to give you good advice. In any case let us know how you get on tomorrow.


Hi Dollycooper. Hello and welcome.

clivealive is right...there's no need to panic. In your grandmothers day there was no treatment for PA...there is now. So if you do have it, it's treatable and many go about their normal daily, as usual.

The first important thing to say is please do not be tempted to take any vitamin B12 supplements (even in a multi vitamin tablet) as these may skew the results of any blood test your GP will do.

People with PA often suffer with absorption problems (this may, or may not, be one possible cause for your iron deficency anaemia). Tell you GP about the family history of PA...these are the blood test he should want to do:

Serum B12 blood test - this will test your levels of vitamin B12. A B12 deficency could be present in the absence of pernicious anemia, which is only on cause of B12 deficiency. NOTE: GP's often say B12 is normal when it's not - ask for copies of,your blood results - more about this below.

MMA and homocysteine - these are perhaps better indicators of B12 deficency but are not always available on the NHS. Ask your GP and he may be able to do them.

Full blood count (FBC) - to see if you have macrocytic aneamia (sometimes present in PA or the vitamin B12 deficency it causes - but not always, especially where iron deficency aneamia is present).

Anti-IF antibodies - a test for PA. if it's positive, you definately have PA. if it's negative it's only 50% accurate, so you could still have PA.

Folate - vitamin B12 and folate work together, so if your folate levels are too low, then your body will not be able to utilise B12 properly.

Ferritin, vitamin D and magnesium - people absorption problems often have low levels of these - can make you feel quite ill.

GP's sometimes say that blood tests are 'normal' when they're not. Bumping along at the bottom (or the top) of the reference range is not good enough for some people. If you get copies of you blood results (you are entitled to these) and post the results here, together with reference ranges, people will be able to help you with interpretation.

GP's are often not well informed about PA or the B12 deficency it causes and are often not aware that B12 deficency can have causes other than PA. So it would be a good idea to read the PAS pinned posts to the right of this page when you log on. There's lots of information the that will tell you about both conditions and you'll be able to see what your GP should be doing to investigate you and then treat you, if necessary. Look particularly at the symptoms checklist to see if you have any of the symptoms of B12 deficency - if you think you have, mark them off and take it along to discuss with your GP.

Finally Dollycooper, please don't worry. Just because PA is in the family, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will definately get it. However, there is a slightly raised possibility, which is why I've suggested the tests above. If it's ruled out and your don't have B12 deficiency or PA, then you have peace of mind. If either condition is confirmed, you can be treated effectively with B12 injections (which didn't exist in your grandmother's day).

And you've come to the right place for help and support. There are lots of knowledgable people in the forum so if you have any more questions or you want any further support, please post again. Or just pop in for a chat.

Good luck with your GP, please don't worry, and let us know how you get on with your GP.



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