Friday, February 20, 2015

You may have heard of people that have low iron levels and anemia, but did you know that some people have a problem with too much iron in the body? Dr. Edward Hill discusses this condition, called hemochromatosis, in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Hemochromatosis is the most common form of iron overload disease. Iron is important because it is part of hemoglobin, a molecule in the blood that transports oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues.

However, too much iron in the body leads to iron overloada buildup of extra iron that, without treatment, can damage organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas; endocrine glands; and joints.

This can cause problems such as diabetes, heart attacks, arthritis, liver cirrhosis and even cancer.

Different forms of hemochromatosis can affect people of all ages. Early symptoms can be fatigue and joint pain. Later symptoms include abdominal pain, irregular heart rhythm, hair loss and a bronze skin color.

Because the symptoms of hemochromatosis are non-specific, patients are often misdiagnosed initially. The diagnosis of hemochromatosis is made by blood tests of iron levels, genetic analysis or biopsies of affected organs such as the liver.

Hemochromatosis is treated by reducing the bodys iron levels with regular blood donations.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.