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Megaloblastic Anemia vs. Pernicious Anemia — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 17, 2024
Megaloblastic anemia is characterized by large, immature red blood cells due to vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, whereas pernicious anemia is a type of megaloblastic anemia caused specifically by vitamin B12 absorption issues.
Megaloblastic Anemia vs. Pernicious Anemia — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Megaloblastic Anemia and Pernicious Anemia


Key Differences

Megaloblastic anemia is a blood disorder characterized by the presence of abnormally large and immature RBCs (megaloblasts) due to a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate. Pernicious anemia, a subtype of megaloblastic anemia, arises specifically from the inability to absorb vitamin B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor.
The general cause of megaloblastic anemia includes dietary deficiencies, malabsorption, or certain medications affecting vitamin B12 or folate levels. Pernicious anemia is often due to an autoimmune response that destroys stomach cells producing intrinsic factor, essential for vitamin B12 absorption.
Symptoms of megaloblastic anemia include fatigue, weakness, and pale skin, stemming from inefficient RBC production. In pernicious anemia, neurological symptoms like numbness and balance issues may occur due to prolonged B12 deficiency.
Diagnosis of megaloblastic anemia involves blood tests showing large RBCs and low levels of B12 or folate. Pernicious anemia is diagnosed through additional tests confirming the absence of intrinsic factor and specific antibodies.
Treatment for megaloblastic anemia focuses on supplementing the deficient nutrients. Pernicious anemia treatment typically involves regular vitamin B12 injections or high-dose oral supplements to bypass the absorption issue.

Comparison Chart


Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency due to lack of intrinsic factor.

RBC Features

Large, immature RBCs (megaloblasts).
Similar characteristics, with added intrinsic factor deficiency.

Common Symptoms

Fatigue, weakness, pale skin.
Includes neurological symptoms like numbness.


Blood tests for B12, folate levels, and cell size.
Additional tests for intrinsic factor and antibodies.


Vitamin B12 or folate supplements.
Vitamin B12 injections or high-dose oral supplements.

Compare with Definitions

Megaloblastic Anemia

A blood disorder caused by large, immature RBCs due to vitamin deficiencies.
Her fatigue was diagnosed as megaloblastic anemia, indicating a folate deficiency.

Pernicious Anemia

A type of megaloblastic anemia caused by the inability to absorb vitamin B12.
Pernicious anemia was the diagnosis after tests showed a lack of intrinsic factor.

Megaloblastic Anemia

Diagnosed through blood tests showing abnormal cell size.
The blood test revealed megaloblastic anemia due to a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Pernicious Anemia

Often autoimmune, affecting the stomach's ability to produce intrinsic factor.
Her pernicious anemia was linked to an autoimmune condition.

Megaloblastic Anemia

Often results from dietary insufficiency or absorption issues.
A vegan diet without proper supplementation can lead to megaloblastic anemia.

Pernicious Anemia

Managed with regular vitamin B12 injections or oral supplements.
To treat her pernicious anemia, she receives monthly B12 injections.

Megaloblastic Anemia

Characterized by inefficient RBC production.
Megaloblastic anemia often leads to severe fatigue and weakness.

Pernicious Anemia

Diagnosed through specific blood tests and antibody screening.
Blood tests confirmed his pernicious anemia, showing an absence of intrinsic factor.

Megaloblastic Anemia

Treatable with appropriate vitamin supplementation.
With proper folate and B12 supplements, megaloblastic anemia can be managed effectively.

Pernicious Anemia

Leads to vitamin B12 deficiency and associated neurological issues.
Numbness in the hands and feet can be a sign of pernicious anemia.

Common Curiosities

What is the main cause of pernicious anemia?

It's primarily caused by the body's inability to absorb vitamin B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor.

Is pernicious anemia a genetic disorder?

It can have a genetic component, but it's often autoimmune.

Can megaloblastic anemia be cured?

It can be effectively managed with proper supplementation of the deficient nutrients.

What are the symptoms of megaloblastic anemia?

Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, and pale skin.

Can a poor diet lead to megaloblastic anemia?

Yes, a diet lacking in vitamin B12 or folate can lead to this condition.

What causes megaloblastic anemia?

It's caused by a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate.

Are the neurological symptoms of pernicious anemia reversible?

With early treatment, many neurological symptoms can be improved.

How long does treatment for pernicious anemia last?

Treatment is usually lifelong, as the body cannot naturally absorb B12.

Is pernicious anemia more common in a certain age group?

It's more common in older adults, but can occur at any age.

Can megaloblastic anemia lead to complications?

If untreated, it can lead to severe anemia and other complications.

What foods should be avoided with megaloblastic anemia?

There are no specific foods to avoid, but a balanced diet rich in B12 and folate is important.

Can pernicious anemia lead to other health issues?

If untreated, it can lead to severe neurological and physical health problems.

Is megaloblastic anemia hereditary?

There are hereditary forms, but it's often due to dietary or absorption issues.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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