I diagnosed myself at the age of 21 with vitamin B12 deficiency. The only sign I had was enlarged red blood cells, no anemia. I am now 43 and have been an ER R.N. for 20 years and have also been researching vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia for 20 years. I frequently encounter patients who have signs and symptoms or are at high-risk for B12 deficiency, but doctors do not test. The one's that rarely do--- are not ordering a more sensitive test than the serum B12 test. All patients should always have a methylmalonic acid test, along with serum B12 (to aid in diagnosis). Out of frustration, witnessing patients who needed to be tested, and teaching doctors how to diagnose B12 deficiency, I co-authored the book, "Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiangoses," Quill Driver Books, 2005. 12 reviews on Amazon.com (3 from physicians). Many disorders or diseases don't have a treatment--- but B12 deficiency does. It is criminal for patients to sustain neurologic injury or permanent disability because health care professionals are not educated properly on B12 deficiency. This is a totally preventable and treatable disorder. My mission is to get a standard of care change in the early diagnosis of B12 deficiency to prevent poor health, injury, disability, poor outcomes and even death. Major malpractice cases have been won by patients who are permanently injured.
All seniors who fall should always have B12 deficiency ruled out with methylmalonic acid testing. B12 deficiency can cause gait and balance problems, tremor, orthostatic hypotension, parasthesias, confusion, dementia--- which makes a patient high risk for falling----- yet there is no standard of care to check seniors for B12 deficiency when they present with a fall. This is currently a project I am working on. I have seen many patients who have fractured their hip or femur--- who proved to have true B12 deficiency. We are wasting billions of dollars and more importantly affecting millions of lives being ignorant regarding this disorder.
Recent article I wrote for "Nursing 2007" January issue regarding B12 deficiency and the elderly. In addition, anyone with beginning dementia or with a diagnosis of dementia needs proper screening to rule out B12 deficiency. There is a critical window of opportunity to treat B12 deficiency or permanent injury will result.