Hemochromatosis is an inherited medical condition that causes the body to absorb too much iron from the food consumed. This excess iron that is absorbed is stored in the liver, heart and pancreas, leading to life-threatening conditions. Symptoms are:
• Joint pain
• Abdominal pain
HOW IS HEMOCHROMATOSIS DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis of Hemochromatosis is difficult because in most cases symptoms don't appear until much later in life. Paediatricians may order for blood tests if the disease is suspected in children. Blood testing in adults also confirms diagnosis. Additional tests like liver function tests, MRI of liver and gene mutation tests help in diagnosing the extent to which disease has spread.
HOW IS HEMOCHROMATOSIS TREATED?
It is very important to get iron levels down to normal. Therapeutic blood removal or phlebotomy, is the most common means of iron reduction. For people who have the disease at the time of diagnosis, life expectancy may be shortened depending upon the disease. Once iron levels reach normal, a person can begin maintenance therapy, which involves making a blood donation every 2 to 4 months for life. Some people may need to give blood more or less depending on what they eat and how quickly their body absorbs iron.
DID YOU KNOW?
In some cases, patients may suffer from anaemia too, which makes treatment more complicated.