Pernicious Anemia is one of many different types of anemia. Having anemia means that your body does not have enough red blood cells that are healthy. Because of this the blood can not distribute oxygen properly to the cells in your body.
This condition got it’s name over a century ago. The word “pernicious” originates from the Latin word perniciousus, meaning from destruction or from violent death. At that time the condition was fatal as no real treatments were available. They did not know that the cause of pernicious anemia was lack of vitamin B12.
Don’t panic, pernicious anemia is is no longer fatal if treated. Fortunately it is easily treatable. This is usually done with B12 vitamins or shots.
Pernicious anemia is basically the same thing as vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. That said, the difference between the two is the actual cause of the vitamin B12 deficiency. In pernicious anemia the anemia is caused by lack of vitamin B12. In turn, the lack of vitamin B12 is caused by severe gastric atrophy. That is a condition that stops your gastric cells from producing or secreting intrinsic factor. Basically what happens is that your body destroys and stops making the cells in your stomach that help you absorb vitamin B12. These cells are your intrinsic factor.
Pernicious anemia is treated the same way as vitamin B12 deficiency, with vitamin B12 shots or pills. Unfortunately many people develop permanent nerve damage before they discover that they have the condition. The nerve damage is usually minor, and is more of an annoyance then painful. Having pernicious anemia does increase your chances of developing stomach cancer, so your doctor may be on the lookout for it and check you periodically. In general, as long as they are getting proper treatment, people with pernicious anemia have a normal lifespan that is not affected by the pernicious anemia.