Woman, 32, suffered from pleurisy due to vitamin B12 deficiency

Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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Certain vitamins and minerals are essential to keep our bodies functioning as they should. Vitamin B12 is one such vitamin that is found in many animal products like meat, eggs and cheese. Without enough of it we can become deficient, and this can have serious consequences.

B12 has various vital functions within the body, including helping to create red blood cells.

A deficiency means you can’t produce healthy blood cells that are needed to transport oxygen around the body.

Therefore, common symptoms associated with a B12 deficiency are tiredness and low mood.

However, it can cause lesser known side effects meaning it can be mistaken for other problems.

This was the case for one 32-year-old woman as some of her symptoms were attributed to her type 1 diabetes.

Helena, whose story was published by B12 Deficiency Info, ultimately required B12 injections.

The case study said: “Helena has type 1 diabetes, unbeknown to her doctors this predisposed her to other autoimmune conditions and sadly the tingling in her hands and feet was put down to her long-standing diabetes. Her fatigue was attributed to her stressful job.

“Unfortunately repeated doctors told her she was not managing her diabetes properly and this was the reason she kept falling ill to infections.

“Helena was increasingly absent from work due to recurrent respiratory infections.”


One symptom she experienced was recurrent pleurisy.

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the sheet-like layers that cover the lungs, called the pleura.

This can cause a sharp chest pain when breathing deeply.

Her other main symptoms were listed as:

  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Dry cracked corners of the mouth
  • Tinnitus
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Low mood
  • Poor memory
  • Headaches.

“After being alerted to the symptoms of B12 deficiency her doctor reluctantly carried out a serum B12 test,” the study continued.

“The results showed that Helena was severely deficient and she was immediately started on loading doses of hydroxocobalamin.

“The response to the B12 injections was profound, the tingling in her hands and feet stopped, sleep patterns restored and energy levels raised enormously.

“Sadly her doctor retested her levels just after loading doses and reported that her levels were now incredibly high and incorrectly stated that they would need to stop the B12 injections.

“These were duly stopped and all her symptoms returned within 10 days.”

She has since been prescribed these injections on a permanent basis.

The study said: “After a long drawn-out battle Helena was able to see a new doctor who reinstated the correct treatment and understands that these injections will be required for life. She is now on the road to complete recovery.”

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