Hemochromatosis (HHC) is a genetic disorder (iron disorder ) of metabolism. Individuals with hemochromatosis absorb too much iron. Iron cannot be excreted therefore the excess builds to toxic levels in tissues of major organs.
In the United States, most cases are a result of a genetic predisposition to absorb iron in excess of normal, and such disease is referred to as hereditary hemochromatosis. It is estimated that 1 of 10 people carry the gene mutation that can lead to iron overloading and possible disease.
Symptoms of Hemochromatosis
- Weight loss.
- liver disease, including an enlarged liver, cirrhosis, cancer, and liver failure
- damage to the pancreas, possibly causing diabetes
- heart abnormalities, such as irregular heart rhythms or congestive heart failure
- early menopause
- abnormal pigmentation of the skin, making it look gray or bronze
- thyroid deficiency
- damage to the adrenal gland
Treatment of Hemochromatosis
Therapeutic phlebotomy (pronounced fle-bot-o-me) is the preferred treatment for reducing iron stores in hemochromatosis patients. If begun early in the course of iron loading, phlebotomy can prevent most iron overload complications. For a patient who has no evident tissue or organ damage, proper disease management may result in a normal long-term outcome and life expectancy. For a patient who has tissue or organ damage, further damage can be halted but damage already incurred may not be reversible. Even after the occurrence of complications, however, phlebotomy can decrease symptoms and improve life expectancy for patients with iron overload.
The encouraging news is that a simple and inexpensive test for hemochromatosis exists. What's more, hemochromatosis can be effectively treated by removing blood from your body to lower your level of iron.
Find more Iron Deficiency and Overload Disorders