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What You Need to Know About Hemochromatosis

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If you suspect that you might have hemochromatosis, you need to consult a doctor. There is much to know about this condition, including the symptoms, treatment, and genetic testing. Knowing what you are up against and how to prevent it is essential. This article will help you learn more about this disorder.

Symptoms

Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes the body to store too much iron, causing serious damage to organs and tissues. While it is not contagious and curable, treatment is available to manage symptoms and prevent organ damage. Symptoms of hemochromatosis vary from person to person. Men experience symptoms earlier than women. Men lose more iron than women during menstruation, while women’s iron levels are lower after menopause. The condition is hereditary, meaning you inherit two or three copies of the HFE gene from your parents.

Hemochromatosis symptoms include joint pain, fatigue, and general weakness. It can also lead to early menopause and skin changes. Hereditary hemochromatosis can be diagnosed through a blood test and a medical history. Treatments may include medicines and changes to diet.

Some people with hemochromatosis may not show any symptoms, while others do show no signs of disease. It can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses. It is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible, as it can permanently damage organs.

Causes

Hemochromatosis is a disease in which the body accumulates excessive amounts of iron. People with hemochromatosis must undergo blood transfusions regularly. Patients may need blood transfusions several times yearly to prevent anemia or bone marrow failure. The red blood cells used for transfusions contain a large amount of iron. Because the body does not have a mechanism to eliminate iron, the buildup of iron in the blood causes the disease.

While the severity of hemochromatosis varies, the symptoms of the disease are usually the same. Patients often experience joint pain and tiredness. If you suspect hemochromatosis, you should visit a doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor will likely do a blood analysis to determine if the condition is present.

Without treatment, you may develop liver failure and other organ damage. If you have this disease, the best way to avoid its ramifications is to reduce your intake of iron-rich foods. Hemochromatosis is caused by an excessive amount of iron in the blood. It can result from environmental or hereditary factors.

Treatment

Hemochromatosis is a condition where the body stores too much iron. Patients with this disorder risk many health problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is often hereditary, but some treatments can correct the condition. These treatments include therapeutic venipuncture, which involves drawing blood from the patient several times weekly. These sessions will allow the doctor to remove the excess iron from the blood.

Phlebotomy is an essential part of the treatment of hemochromatosis. Patients who have regular phlebotomy sessions can prevent the accumulation of iron. The treatment of hemochromatosis can reduce the number of complications and lengthen life. Various types of phlebotomy can be used to treat hereditary hemochromatosis.

A genetic disorder, hemochromatosis occurs in 1 in 327 people and involves an excess of iron in the body. This excess iron accumulates in various organs, including the heart and liver. Over time, this iron builds up and damages these organs.

Genetic testing

Genetic testing for hemochromatosis is an essential diagnostic tool for patients suspected of having the disease. Although it is not a cure for the disease, genetic testing can be used to rule out other conditions. The HFE gene contains two common disease-causing variants, the H63D, and the C282Y. Testing for these variants is mandatory for patients with hereditary hemochromatosis but is optional for those without symptoms.

People with hereditary hemochromatosis have a 25 percent chance of inheriting a defective gene from their parents. The condition is present at birth, but most people do not experience symptoms until later in life. Women usually develop symptoms after menopause and are more likely to have the condition than men. Women who are diagnosed with hemochromatosis may have symptoms even after menopause.

There are two types of hemochromatosis genetic tests: whole blood and cheek tests. The former requires a cheek scraping, while the latter requires a blood sample from the arm. These tests are about 85 percent accurate. However, they may miss some hemochromatosis patients and identify people with two copies of the defective gene.

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