Pernicious Anaemia Test
Anaemia occurs as a result of insufficient red blood cells in the body, which causes a lack of oxygen in the blood. There are several different types of anaemia, including pernicious anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia and genetic sickle cell anaemia.
Pernicious anaemia is the most commonly experienced form of anaemia and occurs when the body stops absorbing sufficient levels of vitamin B12 from the gastro-intestinal tract. This results in a decrease in red blood cells as the vitamin is essential for red blood cell development. Pernicious means that this condition has a harmful effect on the body in a gradual way. This condition usually develops slowly in people over the age of 30, with the average age being around 60, and can take years to fully develop.
TestDiagnostics offers an advanced laboratory-processed Pernicious Anaemia test which checks for antibodies contained in the body’s Intrinsic Factor (IF) protein rather than your blood’s haemoglobin levels. The presence of IF is important because it is an essential factor for your body to absorb vitamin B12.
Causes and symptoms
Pernicious anaemia develops when the body’s levels of Intrinsic Factor (IF) are insufficient, hampering its ability to absorb vitamin B12 and causing a lower than normal red blood cell count. Intrinsic Factor protein is released in the stomach and binds to the vitamin B12 in the small intestine where it is released into the body. When the levels of vitamin B12 are lower than normal, not enough of the vitamin is released into the body which causes pernicious anaemia.
Other causes may include dietary factors, so a simple change to your diet can help with this condition if it is detected in its early stages. Good food sources for vitamin B12 include dairy, meat, chicken, eggs and shellfish. Some common causes of pernicious anaemia include a weakened stomach lining (atrophic gastritis) or if your body’s immune system starts to attack the cells that make Intrinsic Factor.
The symptoms associated with anaemia are usually mild or quite difficult to detect. However, the most commonly experienced symptoms include a loss of appetite, pale skin, diarrhoea, tiredness or a lack of energy, problems concentrating, a red or swollen tongue, bleeding gums or shortness of breath.
In some cases, pernicious anaemia can cause nerve damage if it has been left untreated for a long period of time. This may cause depression, loss of balance, confusion or even dementia or a tingling sensation or numbness in the hands and feet.
If you have a family history of pernicious anaemia or a history of the following autoimmune disorders you may be more likely to develop this condition in the future:
- Graves Disease
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Addison’s Disease
- Chronic Thyroiditis
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Testicular Dysfunction
- Secondary Amenorrhoea
Tests and treatment
The most common treatment for pernicious anaemia is monthly vitamin B12 injections to improve the deficiency. Vitamin B12 supplements are also an option for older people, especially if gastric atrophy exists. It is important to note that a balanced diet rich in dairy, meat, poultry and eggs can prevent and treat this condition on an ongoing basis and help to reduce its adverse symptoms and effects.
There are various tests available today to both diagnose and monitor this condition. If you suspect you may have anaemia, it’s best to visit your doctor for appropriate treatment. Some tests include:
- Serum vitamin B12 level
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Bone marrow examination
- Measurement of serum holotranscobalamin II
- Schilling test
- Reticulocyte count
- Serum methylmalonic acid (MMA) level
- Serum LDH
TestDiagnostics’ Pernicious Anaemia test is a simple finger prick test that checks for the presence of IF in your body to determine whether you have pernicious anaemia. An easy to use safety finger prick lancet as well as detailed instructions for how to take the test are included in our test pack. You must ensure you take your blood sample exactly as instructed to ensure you receive the most accurate results possible. Once received by our laboratory, your results will be available within two weeks.
- What is pernicious anaemia?
Pernicious anaemia is a lack of red blood cells in the body which can lead to feelings of tiredness and lethargy.
- What causes pernicious anaemia?
A lack of vitamin B12 is the main cause of pernicious anaemia.
- What are the main symptoms?
The main symptoms of this condition include lethargy, fatigue, loss of appetite, problems concentrating, a swollen or red tongue, diarrhoea, constipation or even long term nerve damage.
- How can I prevent pernicious anaemia?
The best ways to prevent yourself from contracting this condition are to eat a vitamin B12 rich foods like meat, poultry, shellfish, dairy and eggs or to take regular vitamin B12 injections.
- When am I more at risk of contracting pernicious anaemia?
You are more at risk of contracting this condition if you have a history of the following: Graves disease, Addison’s disease, type 1 diabetes, hypopituitarism or hypoparathyroidism.