Hemochromatosis

Monday, January 31, 2011

We often see food items in the grocery store advertising added iron or iron fortified. Low iron can be a problem but so can too much iron. Dr. Edward Hill discusses hemochromatosis in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron. Why is too much iron a bad thing? It can build up in organs and damage them. Without treatment, hemochromatosis can cause these organs to fail.

Iron is an essential nutrient found in many foods. The greatest amount is found in red meat and iron-fortified bread and cereal. In the body, iron becomes part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a molecule in the blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues. Healthy people usually absorb about 10 percent of the iron contained in the food they eat to meet the bodys needs. But people with hemochromatosis absorb more iron than the body needs. Since the body has no natural way to rid itself of excess iron, the iron is stored in the tissues, especially the liver, heart and pancreas.

Joint pain is the most common complaint of people with this disease. Other common symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain and heart problems.

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