Vitamin B12 deficiency Glossitis may occur with low levels affecting the tongue – symptoms
Vitamin B12 can be stored in the body for a number of years, which means that it can take a long while before signs of the condition appear. However, the changes can seem innocuous, so you may put off seeing your GP. This would be a big mistake – left untreated, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to irreversible neurological complications. A change in appearance and texture on your tongue could indicate low levels of B12.
The “hallmark” side effect of a vitamin B12 deficiency is “megaloblastic anaemia”, characterised by abnormally red blood cells.
This condition may result in “atrophic glossitis”, which is when tiny bumps on the tongue (papillae) start to waste away, WebMD stated.
When this occurs a “smooth” texture of the tongue, which may look “glossy” may appear.
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Just like other conditions, vitamin B12 deficiency can have a number of causes.
The most common cause, in the UK at least, is pernicious anaemia.
This is an autoimmune condition affecting the stomach.
Pernicious anaemia causes the immune system to attack certain cells in the stomach preventing the body from absorbing B12.
However, while pernicious anaemia is the common cause of the condition: “The exact cause of pernicious anaemia is unknown” says the NHS.
Pernicious anaemia is most likely to affect: “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”.
Another cause of B12 deficiency could a lack of it in the diet.
Meat, fish, and dairy products normally provide enough vitamin B12 for the body; however, those on vegan diets may need to take supplements.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will then determine the root cause for the vitamin B12 deficiency.
This can range from dietary choices, an acquired autoimmune condition, to alcohol abuse.
If you choose not to get a blood test, and you do have a vitamin B12 deficiency, further health complications will occur.
For instance, you might experience persistent tingling in your hands and feet.
This could lead to issues with balance, causing more falls, which may lead to injury.
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