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Doctor insights on: Iron Overload (Hemochromatosis)

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What is iron overload, hemochromatosis?

What is iron overload, hemochromatosis?

Too much bodily iron: As a result of the inability to increase iron loss, iron overload is an inevitable response to increased iron entry into the body. This can occur by one of three mechanisms - nutritional intake, increased absorption, parenteral sources (i.e. Transfusions). Hemochromatosis is abnormally high absorption of iron as result of a genetic defect. Extra iron can be toxic. ...Read more

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Dr. (Liz)Phuong Tran
320 doctors shared insights

Hemochromatosis (Definition)

A medical condition caused by iron accumulation in the body. It can be the result of underlying hereditary disease or be due ...Read more


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How common is iron overload/hemochromatosis?

How common is iron overload/hemochromatosis?

1 in 200: It's extremely common, and of all the common, serious diseases, it is the easiest to manage. If it's discovered relatively late, the person realizes they've had "the blahs" for years once phlebotomy removes the excess iron. ...Read more

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How serious is iron overload, hemochromatosis?

Can be deadly: Over time, excesses of iron build up in major organs such as the heart, liver, pancreas, joints and pituitary. If the extra iron is not removed, these organs can become diseased, causing conditions like diabetes mellitus, irregular heart beat or heart attack, arthritis, cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer, gall bladder disease, depression, impotence, infertility, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism. ...Read more

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What are the symptoms of iron overload, hemochromatosis?

What are the symptoms of iron overload, hemochromatosis?

A few: Lack of energy, abdominal pain, memory fog, loss of sex drive, heart flutters, irregular heart beat. When symptoms are associated with hemochromatosis, these usually begin in men in their late 20’s to early 30’s. In women, symptoms usually start about 10-15 years after they stop having a period due to menopause, birth control pills or hysterectomy. ...Read more

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How is a diagnosis for iron overload/hemochromatosis confirmed?

How is a diagnosis for iron overload/hemochromatosis confirmed?

Labs and Bx: Labs that include ferritin and transferrin saturation. All patients being evaluated for hhc should have c282y and h63d mutation analysis. This may help in determine risk for hhc but is not always diagnostic by itself. Lastly a liver biopsy with a iron index or MRI may help to confirm suspected cases. ...Read more

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What iron levels are considered "suspicious" for iron overload/hemochromatosis?

Transferrin sat: Your best screen is transferrin saturation. Many of us think that the current recommendation of 45% or more for women, 50% of more for men miss too many people. If you actually have evidence of liver troubles (elevated SGOT / SGPT, for example), think about getting a serum ferritin. With a family history, get the gene testing to know early. ...Read more

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How can I know if I have iron overload/hemochromatosis? What tests should be performed? I hear that there is a DNA genetic test kit for hemochromatosis, is that true?

How can I know if I have iron overload/hemochromatosis? What tests should be performed? I hear that there is a DNA genetic test kit for hemochromatosis, is that true?

Blood tests: Iron and TIBC (total iron binding capacity) can be used to detect iron overload (iron/tibc >45 increases suspicion). Hemochromatosis, one cause for iron overload, can be detected by a gene study. As a general rule, patients with hemochromatosis are referred to gastroenterologist for a liver biopsy, as iron overload can do significant damage to the liver. ...Read more

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Is iron overload/hereditary hemochromatosis "curable"?

Is iron overload/hereditary hemochromatosis "curable"?

Yes: Yes as long as the iron is removed before irreversible damage like cirrhosis or diabetes has occurred. Phlebotomy is the best way to remove the iron. ...Read more

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Is it possible for a person to get iron overload from eating a lot of meat but doesn't have gene for hemochromatosis?

Is it possible for a person to get iron overload from eating a lot of meat but doesn't have gene for hemochromatosis?

You're fine: Argentinas gauchos live in a 100% meat diet without apparent ill effects. In the absence of the gene for hemochromatosis, your gut simply doesn't absorb the extra iron. Don't worry about nonexistent / negligible risks -- life's difficult enough. ...Read more

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Does hemochromatosis ever cause compensatory hyperventilation? Does this signal that heart damage from iron overload is already done?

Does hemochromatosis ever cause compensatory hyperventilation? Does this signal that heart damage from iron overload is already done?

The heart!: The heart is one of the last organs to be significantly damaged from hemochromatosis. Lfts indicationg liver damage, pancreatic, and gonadal dysfuction would occur first, as would joint issues caused by secondary hemochromatosis. Also, a female would never have this issue at 19! ...Read more

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Isn't the diagnosis for hemochromatosis based on irish hemochromatosis? Other races like far east have different gene for iron overload

Isn't the diagnosis for hemochromatosis based on irish hemochromatosis? Other races like far east have different gene for iron overload

Let me help: Most hemochromatosis worldwide is caused by mutations at the hfe gene locus; most europeans with a worrisome mutation here have c282y, but there are other alleles at this locus, and several other less common loci. Further, having the gene won't give you the disease unless you actually get iron-overloaded, which is how we pick it up. Any primary care doc can diagnose & rx is easy. Stay proactive. ...Read more

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If I have the double gene mutation (homozygous) for hemochromatosis but am not clinically iron overloaded (have high iron levels on lab results) at this time, can I develop iron overload later, such as in 2, 5, or 10 or more years later?

If I have the double gene mutation (homozygous) for hemochromatosis but am not clinically iron overloaded (have high iron levels on lab results) at this time, can I develop iron overload later, such as in 2, 5, or 10 or more years later?

Hemachromatosis: The single gene carrier will likely not develop any symptoms or problems from increased iron absorption. You will still need to have regular blood work to check for increased iron, and not use any supplements with iron. If you have two genes, your chance is good that you will have high levels of iron, and possibly get damage from the extra iron. Timing is unknown, too many variables. ...Read more

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I have been diagnosed with hereditary hemochromatosis. I have had 8 phlebotomies and my iron level is still raising. Why?

Glad you are treated: Serum iron means nothing in this setting. If ferritin is still rising, it may be as an acute phase reactant as it fluctuates. Get a consult if you have any doubt about your diagnosis. ...Read more

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Every time my son donates blood they tell him his iron is too high . This time it was 51. My uncle has hemochromatosis , should I be concerned .

Hemochromatosis: commonest is classical hemochromatosis which is AR it takes 2 genes for full desease but you can get a low peneterence of the desease so further evaluation of ferritin and transferrin should be done by your heamatologist ...Read more

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Does iron build up in hemochromatosis impact the lungs?

Does iron build up in hemochromatosis impact the lungs?

No: They are usually spared unless the left ventricle of the heart fails and blood accumulates under pressure in the lungs. ...Read more

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I have hemochromatosis but my iron levels are Ferritin 8 Iron 7 Transferrin 2.1 Transferrin Sat 13?

Being treated?: The goal of management of hemochromatosis is to reduce one's body iron load as reflected in numbers such as these. Hemochromatosis is deadly if untreated, but easier than any other very serious illness to treat effectively. I'm glad the diagnosis was made. ...Read more

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I have been doing phlebotomy for hemochromatosis. i got my ferritin down to 50 then it went back up to 300! why?! do not drink low iron diet

I have been doing phlebotomy for hemochromatosis. i got my ferritin down to 50 then it went back up to 300! why?! do not drink low iron diet

Iron accumulates: In Hemochromatosis, your body absorbs too much iron. Even if your diet is low iron, as it should be, you can still over time accumulate iron in your tissues again since the underlying problem with iron metabolism is ever present. Ferritin is also a marker of inflammation, and often rises during infection etc. If you have had any such issues lately, it could be a result of that as well. ...Read more

Iron (Definition)

In the metal group ...Read more


Iron (Definition)

In the metal group ...Read more