'My feet, legs and fingers still play up one year after my B12 deficiency diagnosis - it is likely permanent'

Person scrunching up their toes

A B12 sufferer is experiencing numb feet one year on from his diagnosis - and he fears it might be permanent

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Adam Chapman

By Adam Chapman

Published: 03/04/2024

- 15:12

The future looks uncertain for one B12 sufferer

Have you heard of B12 deficiency? You may be vaguely aware of it but have no understanding of its impact.

If that's the case, you are one of the lucky ones.

A person has taken to Reddit to reveal his ongoing battle with B12 deficiency. A battle that he's not currently winning.

When the patient was admitted to hospital last year, his B12 levels were extremely low.

"The doctor said I was just about the worst case he had ever seen."

The Reddit user continued: "In 11 days I had three units of blood, a unit of platelets, scoped on both ends, heart ultrasound, and narrowly escaped a bone marrow biopsy. By the time I got out, my arms were a mass of bruises from getting blood drawn and the IV."

Man holding a cane

The patient now walks with a cane most of the time

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Tests picked up pernicious anemia - the most common cause of B12 deficiency in the UK.

Unfortunately, it had already caused neurological damage.

The doctor at the hospital said it could take up to a year for the damage to get better, but that, depending on how long the damage was going on before diagnosis and treatment, that it was more likely to remain permanent.

"I am coming up to a year since an 11-day hospital stay and diagnosis, my feet, parts of my legs, and fingers are still numb, my balance isn't great, and walking can be an adventure," the patient explained.

He walk with a cane most of the time, adding that "parts of me have almost no feeling. The cold seems to affect it as well".

Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition that causes your immune system to attack the cells in your stomach that produce intrinsic factor. This means your body is unable to absorb vitamin B12.

The exact cause of pernicious anaemia is unknown, but it's more common in women around 60 years of age, people with a family history of the condition and those with another autoimmune condition, such as Addison's disease or vitiligo.

The Reddit user revealed he has vitiligo and digestive issues connected to the pernicious anemia.

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Other causes of B12 deficiency include:

  • A lack of these vitamins in your diet – this is uncommon, but can happen if you have a vegan diet and do not take vitamin B12 supplements or eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 , follow a restrictive diet or have a generally poor diet for a long time
  • Medicine – certain medicines, including anticonvulsants and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), can affect how much of these vitamins your body absorbs
How to treat B12 deficiency

Most cases of vitamin B12 deficiency can be easily treated with injections or tablets to replace the missing vitamins.

Vitamin B12 supplements are usually given by injection at first.

Then, depending on whether your B12 deficiency is related to your diet, you'll either require B12 tablets between meals or regular injections.

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