Medical Q&As

Pernicious anaemia - injections?

I'm overweight and have ulcerative colitis. This has led to depression and sleep disturbance. Currently I am taking an antidepressant and a sleeping tablet. Recently it has been established that I have pernicious anaemia due to lack of vitamin B12 and my doctor has started me on a course of B12 injections. How long will I be on these injections and can you suggest anything other than the injections for a quicker return to a normal sleep pattern?

You will need to receive a B12 injection every few months for the rest of your life since a diagnosis of pernicious anaemia means that you are unable to absorb B12 from your gut. Such absorption is facilitated by the production of a compound in the stomach that is called intrinsic factor. That factor is absent in people with pernicious anaemia. Therefore in order to ensure that your body has sufficient stores of B12 it is necessary to bypass the gut by injecting the vitamin into your body. It would be very unwise to stop taking the vitamin injection because there can be potentially serious complications from pernicious anaemia if it is left untreated. The injections should eventually contribute to a sense of enhanced well being, which in turn should help your sleep pattern indirectly. However in the short term an adjustment of your current antidepressant and sleeping medication should help to stabilise your sleep pattern.