What is the typical appearance of patients with pernicious anemia?

Updated: Feb 18, 2019
  • Author: Srikanth Nagalla, MD, MS, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

The finding of severe anemia in an adult patient whose constitutional symptoms are relatively mild and in whom weight loss is not a major symptom should arouse suspicion of pernicious anemia.

Typically, patients with pernicious anemia are described as having a stereotypic appearance: they have a lemon-yellow waxy pallor with premature whitening of the hair, and they appear flabby, with a bulky frame that is generally incongruent with the severe anemia and weakness. It should be remembered, however, that whereas this characterization is useful in patients of northern European descent, it is less helpful among patients of other ethnic groups (who, as noted, are more commonly affected than was once believed).


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!