Iron is a crucial element of haemoglobin. It is a protein that carries oxygen in our blood from the lungs to other body parts. It is common for people to have iron deficiency. A person can have prolonged body fatigue and other severe health issues if they don’t have enough iron.
But – what happens if you have too much iron in your body? Excessive iron in our body is a metabolic disorder called iron overload or haemochromatosis. This guide features everything about haemochromatosis.
What is Haemochromatosis?
Haemochromatosis, also known as iron overload, is a metabolic disorder where your body’s organs start to store too much iron. The body organs that accumulate excessive iron are;
- Pituitary gland
Early diagnosis through a haemochromatosis test can provide the necessary treatment to control the disorder. However, if left undiagnosed, it can lead to organ damage.
Symptoms of Haemochromatosis
Most people with iron overload don’t show any specific symptoms. This can be an underlying disorder that shows its symptoms when you are older, aged between 30 to 50. This is why every adult should get their iron levels checked through a medical test. The symptoms of this metabolic disorder may include;
- Joint pain
- Constant muscle fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
- Gray or bronze skin appearance
- Abdomen pain
- Hair loss
- Poor sex drive
- Heart flutter
Some older people do not get any symptoms of haemochromatosis. As a matter of fact, this iron overload causes other serious health issues, such as;
- Abnormal heartbeat (racing heart)
- Liver or pancreatic cancer
- Erectile dysfunction
- Skin cancer
- Irregular menstrual cycle
Diagnosis of Haemochromatosis
If you have any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor and go for a haemochromatosis test to see the iron levels in your blood. For haemochromatosis diagnosis, a doctor may ask you;
- Your symptoms
- Any supplements intakes
- Your diet, routine, and any other condition
- Family medical history
Depending on your consultation, the doctor may recommend any of the one following haemochromatosis tests.
The blood test is a simple serum transferrin saturation type of haemochromatosis test. A blood test aims to evaluate the levels of iron in your blood.
Genetic blood testing is another excellent way of a haemochromatosis test to see if your metabolic disorder is hereditary. You should go for genetic testing if you have a family medical history of haemochromatosis.
The iron in your body is stored up in your liver. So, if you get haemochromatosis, it is common for the liver to get damaged at first. A liver screening can show the iron levels stored in your liver. Moreover, the biopsy can also show the damage it has done to your liver.
How to Prevent Haemochromatosis
You can maintain healthy iron levels in your blood or prevent the haemochromatosis from getting worst by taking these restorative measures;
- Annual iron tests
- Avoid taking Vitamin C or multivitamins
- Stop alcohol consumption
- Look out for any symptoms
- Practice good hygiene
- Go for a regular liver examination
You can not prevent haemochromatosis in your body. However, you can lower the iron levels in your blood to reduce its impact.