Vitamin B12 deficiency: Sensation in the chest indicating long-term damage – what to spot?

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Physical manifestations of a vitamin B12 deficiency occur when the body has been lacking the vital nutrient for some time. Suffering with low B12 levels is extremely common and if left untreated could cause a major health emergency. Experiencing an unusual sensation in your chest is one symptom warning of danger.

A B12 deficiency is typically characterised by fatigue, faintness, headaches and pale skin.

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.

A burning sensation in the chest, however, could signal that a long-term deficiency has begun to wreak havoc on your nerves.

READ MORE: B12 deficiency: The sign of low levels in the ankles and feet that ‘disappears overnight’

One study looked at a 28-year-old woman who complained of a painful burning sensation in her chest.

She also presented with symptoms of a tingling sensation in her hands and feet.

The symptoms were present over a period of five years and began as an intermittent burning sensation on the pectoral region of the upper chest.

It eventually progressed to numbness of the upper and lower limbs.

The female reported mild weakness of the hands and feet, insomnia, irritability and constipation.

A diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency-related neuropathy was made based on the woman’s symptoms and further tests.

A lack of B12 damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protect nerves.

Without this protection, nerves cease to function properly and conditions such as peripheral neuropathy occur.

 Even B12 deficiency that is relatively mild may affect the nervous system and the proper functioning of the brain causing a multitude of worrying symptoms.

B12 deficiency strikes all ages, races, economic classes, and both sexes, warned Pharmacy Times.

The health site added: “It is arguably the most common nutritional deficiency causing injury in the Western world.

“Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to prevent neurologic injury, disability, poor outcomes, and premature death.

“B12 deficiency causes demyelinating nervous system disease, dementia, psychiatric illness, anaemia, vascular occlusions, fall-related trauma, suppressed immune system, and bone marrow failure.

“Untreated B12 deficiency can cause vascular disease, including stroke, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, and deep vein thrombosis, because this deficiency causes hyperhomocystinemia. 

“The short- and long-term ramifications are enormous.”

Other warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency, as pointed out by WebMD, include:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or light-headedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • A smooth tongue
  • Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
  • Vision loss
  • Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioural changes
  • A vitamin B12 deficiency can easily be diagnosed via a blood test.

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