Raising Awareness for B12 Deficiency

Published: 21/09/2020

Care Coordinator, Helen, had suffered for years with her health before finally being diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency also known as Pernicious Anaemia.

Care Coordinator, Helen, had suffered for years with her health before finally being diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency also known as Pernicious Anaemia. Here Helen shares her story about the condition and how it has affected her health and quality life.

“It started about six years ago.” Explains Helen. “I would feel pain in my hands, and I couldn’t use the gear stick in my car properly or wring cloths out. Over time other little things would happen. I walked into doors, dropped things, was forgetful, had cramps and I suffered with depression.”

With Helen’s health deteriorating, she went to her GP looking for answers. “I was sent for numerous scans for my hand and wrist, but nothing was picked up.” Tells Helen. “I was then sent to a naval doctor for blood tests. B12 deficiency was picked up the year before but it wasn’t very clear so I was advised to have my bloods done again in a years’ time. The results came back that I was B12 deficient and dangerously low. I then had 8 booster injections over 10 days. Since having the injections the pain in my hand has stopped. I was also told I had Pernicious Anaemia and was having injections every 12 weeks. However, I felt I needed more as I was still suffering but my GP refused.”

Helen eventually changed her GP and was relieved that the new practice understood B12 deficiency better and agreed to giving her injections more frequently to help her symptoms.

“It was such a relief speaking to someone who understands what I’ve been feeling. At times I would feel like I’m losing my mind not knowing what was wrong with me.” Says Helen. “There are still periods when it’s not easy and sometimes the symptoms are bad but I’m now getting the right help.”

Although Helen is now receiving injections from her GP to improve the B12 deficiency she does feel if her symptoms had been diagnosed sooner it would have made her life a lot easier.

Helen wants others to be aware of the symptoms and understand how easy it is to get treated if the condition is picked up early on. Helen explains “There is some really useful information out there, but a lot of people are just not aware of the condition or it’s symptoms. Having lived with this condition for such a long time, I think it’s so important to raise awareness so that people can get the help they need a lot sooner than I did. I found a really good source of information through a Facebook group called B12 Awareness, which is helpful and supportive.”

Helen is now receiving the right treatment from her GP and her employer, Bluebird Care Fareham, who are also learning more about the condition to support Helen at work.

A lack of vitamin B12 is also known as Pernicious Anaemia or Folate Deficiency Anaemia. The condition can have numerous health effects and symptoms can include:

  • extreme tiredness
  • a lack of energy
  • pins and needles (paraesthesia)
  • a sore and red tongue
  • mouth ulcers
  • muscle weakness
  • disturbed vision
  • psychological problems, which may include depression and confusion
  • problems with memory, understanding and judgement

If you or someone you know has these symptoms, we recommend you speak with your GP in the first instance.