Hemochromatosis Treatment

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron. In todays 60 Second Housecall, Dr. Edward Hill discusses some of the problems this can lead to and treatment of the condition.

Dr. Hill:

If hemochromatosis is not detected early and treated, iron may build up in body tissues and lead to serious problems such as:


Liver disease

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

Thyroid deficiency, and

Damage to the adrenal gland

Blood tests can determine whether the amount of iron stored in the body is too high. Many times hemochromatosis is undiagnosed and untreated. Doctors may not think to test for it because initial symptoms can be vague and can mimic other diseases.

Once diagnosed, treatment involves ridding the body of excess iron through a process called phlebotomy, or removing blood. Depending on how severe the iron overload is, a pint of blood will be taken once or twice a week for several months. Once iron levels return to normal, the patient will undergo phlebotomy every two to four months.

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