What Is Pernicious Anemia?
— August 3rd, 2018
People often described Martha as a whirlwind. She was always busy and rarely sat down for very long. But, shortly after her 75th birthday, Martha began feeling tired all the time. She was even tired shortly after getting up in the morning. When she started to feel short of breath, her son, Patrick, got worried. He insisted Martha see her doctor about her symptoms. Martha’s doctor told her that she had pernicious anemia and needed medical treatment.
Older adults, especially those of African and Northern European descent, are at a higher risk for developing pernicious anemia. Knowing about the condition and what to look for in your aging relative could ensure they receive the treatment they need.
About Pernicious Anemia
-Pernicious anemia occurs when the body is unable to make an adequate supply of healthy red blood cells because of a lack of vitamin B12. Red blood cells are crucial because they are the cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. The lack of B12 causes blood cells to be unable to divide, so they are too big to travel through the body. They might even be too big to escape the bone marrow where they are made.
-One of the reasons that older adults are at a greater risk for the condition is because their bodies don’t produce as much stomach acid. The decreased amount of acid makes it harder for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from the foods they eat.
-The word “pernicious” actually means “deadly.” That’s because in the past, pernicious anemia was often deadly. Untreated, it can lead to organs being damaged, including the heart and brain. It can also damage nerves, interfere with digestion, and cause memory problems. Today, the condition can be treated with vitamin B12 shots or pills.
Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia
Not everyone experiences the same symptoms of pernicious anemia. The one symptom most people have is fatigue, which is caused by a lack of oxygen to the tissues. Other symptoms of pernicious anemia include:
- Feeling short of breath.
- A tongue that is shiny, smooth, and red in color.
- Skin that is pale or yellowish.
- Pain in the chest.
- Numbness in the hands or feet.
- Feet or hands that feel cold.
- Problems with balance.
- Coordination problems.
- Slowed reflexes.
If your aging relative is diagnosed with pernicious anemia, senior care can help them to stay healthier and live better. Senior care providers can remind them to take their medicine. If they are receiving B12 through injections, a senior care provider can drive them to the office for the shot. Senior care providers can also allow the older adult to rest when they are feeling tired by taking care of things around the house, such as cooking and cleaning.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Elderly Care in Markham, please contact the caring staff at Geri Health Home Care today. Call us at 416-431-6266. Serving Greater Toronto Area, Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.