Hemochromatosis

Friday, March 01, 2013

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 explains in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Hemochromatosis is an inherited disease in which people absorb too much iron from their diet and have problems excreting this extra iron from their bodies. The iron gets deposited in organs such as the liver, heart, pituitary, thyroid, pancreas 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 and see an average of three physicians before the diagnosis is finally made.

Hemochromatosis affects more men than women. Hemochromatosis is treated by reducing the bodys iron levels with regular blood donations. The goal of treatment is to remove excess iron from the body and treat any organ damage.

Early treatment can help prevent complications such as liver disease, heart disease, arthritis or diabetes.

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