Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Pernicious Anemia
Pernicious anemia is a blood disease caused by the lack of a substance (intrinsic factor) that the body needs in order to absorb vitamin B12 from food. Without enough vitamin B12, the body does not produce enough red blood cells, and cells throughout the body do not get the oxygen they need.
In pernicious anemia, the body produces antibodies that either destroy the parietal cells (cells in the stomach that make intrinsic factor) or that block the action of intrinsic factor. A doctor can diagnose this disease by doing a blood test that looks for these antibodies.
Symptoms include weakness, numbness in the hands and feet, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fever. Pernicious anemia can damage the nerve cells in the brain and spinal column.
The treatment for pernicious anemia is supplements of vitamin B12. These may be given as shots, pills, or a nasal spray. Because the body can no longer absorb this vitamin from food, the supplements must be continued for life.
Pernicious anemia most often affects older adults. It is more common among people in certain parts of the world, especially Scandinavia.
Current as of:
March 28, 2019
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.