Tuesday, August 3, 2010

B-12 really *is* important.

Back in January I was told that I had a B-12 deficiency.  I kinda blew it off.  Ehhh, B-12, who needs that?!  Well, apparently I do.  I have been seeing doctor after doctor to figure out my health "issues" and in the process was referred to a hematologist for a sudden and large drop in my HGB levels.  Of course, it took Tricare 600 years 2 1/2 months to get my referral in.  Today I visited with the hematologist.  Basically I have pernicious anemia.

From the Mayo Clinic website:

  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia (pernicious anemia). Rarely, vitamin B-12 deficiency results from a diet lacking in vitamin B-12, which is found mainly in meat, eggs and milk. A shortage occurs because your small intestine can't absorb vitamin B-12. A deficiency is most often due to a lack of a substance called intrinsic factor.

    Vitamin B-12 is released from food in your stomach. Intrinsic factor is a protein secreted by the stomach that joins vitamin B-12 in the stomach and escorts it through the small intestine to be absorbed by your bloodstream. Without intrinsic factor, vitamin B-12 can't be absorbed and leaves your body as waste. Lack of intrinsic factor may be due to an autoimmune reaction, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the stomach cells that produce it. Vitamin B-12 deficiency ultimately leads to anemia. The Doctor says it is most likely an autoimmune disorder.

    If the deficiency is from a lack of intrinsic factor, it's called pernicious anemia. Pernicious means "deadly." Super Great. Lack of intrinsic factor was often fatal before the availability of vitamin B-12 shots. Because vitamin B-12 is stored in large amounts in your liver, it may take several years before signs of deficiency appear. Makes sense.  I started having the stomach problems about 11 years ago.  Doc said the IBS is most likely a symptom of this autoimmune disorder.

    Vitamin deficiency anemias can result in:
  • Fatigue  check!
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Sore mouth and tongue halfway check!
  • Weight loss I wish!
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet check!
  • Muscle weakness sometimes
  • Irritability double check!
  • Unsteady movements you mean the doorways aren't jumping at me??
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness What was I doing?
Vitamin deficiencies usually develop slowly, over several months to years. Vitamin deficiency symptoms may be subtle at first, but they increase as the deficiency worsens.

  • Complications: Nervous system disorders. While vitamin B-12 is important for the production of red blood cells, it's also important for a healthy nervous system. Untreated, vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to neurological problems, such as persistent tingling in your hands and feet. It can lead to mental confusion and forgetfulness, because vitamin B-12 is necessary for healthy brain function. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause these and other health problems before it leads to anemia. So, if it is already at anemia... does that mean it is progressed??  Have I left this untreated for too long??

     Treatment: Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia (pernicious anemia). You can treat vitamin B-12 deficiency related to a poor diet with changes in your diet and vitamin B-12 supplementation, under a doctor's supervision. If your body can't absorb vitamin B-12, you'll either need lifelong vitamin B-12 injections or nasal B-12 spray. At first you'll need the shots or nasal spray as often as every other day. Eventually you'll need injections or the nasal spray just once a month. Prompt treatment is important, because neurological complications may become permanent if the B-12 deficiency isn't corrected within several months. PERMANENT??

    So.... I am not sure what all this means for me.  I gave 542 vials of blood at the office today.  I go back in a week and may need another CT scan and a chest xray.  He says that if I have one autoimmune disorder, then I will likely have another one.  poo.


Sarah said...

oh, man, I just now saw this. That is true about autoimmune disorders. Once you find out you have one, they often start finding more. ITP (a blood clotting disorder), then Fibromyalgia, then MTHFR (technically a gene mutation, but related somehow to the autoimmune stuff - perhaps the overall cause? Nobody really knows.) MTHFR is treated, interestingly, with high doses of Folic Acid (a B vitamin), because it's most bothersome symptom is an inability to process folic acid.

I'm sorry you're going through this!!

Susie said...

Wow Sarah! These dang vitamins..Who knew you really needed them?? LOL

It seems to me that more and more people are being diagnosed with autoimmune disorders. Makes me wonder if the causes are environmental? I am among the first generation to have mandated vaccines. I wonder if that might be related too.