Hemochromatosis (iron overload)

General or Other | Hematology | Hemochromatosis (iron overload) (Disease)


Someone that has hemochromatosis absorbs too much iron, resulting in a buildup of iron in the heart, pancreas , liver, joints and skin. High levels of iron are toxic to organs, and can result in organ failure. Hereditary hemochromatosis is an inherited (genetic) disorder in which there is excessive accumulation of iron in the body (iron overload).

Individuals affected with hereditary hemochromatosis may have no symptoms or signs (and have normal longevity), or they can have severe symptoms and signs of iron overload that include heart failure, sexual dysfunction, liver cirrhosis , joint pains, diabetes mellitus, fatigue, and darkening of skin.

Causes and Risk factors

In people with hereditary hemochromatosis, the daily absorption of iron from the intestines is greater than the amount needed to replace losses. Since the normal body cannot increase iron excretion, the absorbed iron accumulates in the body.

At this rate of iron accumulation, a man with hemochromatosis can accumulate 20 gram of total body iron by age 40 to 50. This excess iron deposits in the joints, liver, testicles, and heart, which causes damage to these organs, and causes signs and symptoms of hemochromatosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment for hemochromatosis includes avoiding foods that contain iron, a liver disease diet, phlebotomy, and medications that remove iron from the bloodstream. ...