Hemochromatosis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes
What is Hemochromatosis?
Hemochromatosis makes your body absorb a lot of iron from the food you consume. Iron is stored inside your organs such as your pancreas, heart and liver. Too much iron content in your body can cause a lot of fatal liver disease, diabetes and heart problems. Hemochromatosis is usually inherited, the signs are usually more predominant during midlife. Hemochromatosis is treated by removing blood from your body, a lot of the body’s iron content is present in the red blood cells. This treatment reduces the iron levels.
What causes Hemochromatosis?
Hemochromatosis is caused due to a mutation in the gene which controls the iron content in your body. Hereditary Hemochromatosis is usually passed from parents to children. Ways in which you can inherit hereditary Hemochromatosis are:
- When you inherit 2 abnormal genes- The Hemochromatosis gene can pass from the parent to the children. But not every child who inherits 2 abnormal genes can develop iron overload.
- When you inherit 1 abnormal gene- This is extremely common and it develops when only one defective gene is inherited from a parent.
Types of Hemochromatosis:
- Juvenile Hemochromatosis- This form of Hemochromatosis causes the exact problem in young adults that hereditary Hemochromatosis causes in grown ups. Iron accumulation begins earlier and the signs usually occur between 15 to 30 years of age. This mutation is caused by a gene called hepcidin gene.
- Neonatal Hemochromatosis- This is a fatal disorder where iron starts building up rapidly in the liver of the fetus. It is a form of an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself.
- Secondary Hemochromatosis- This type of Hemochromatosis is not inherited and is caused by iron overload. People with severe liver disease and anemia might need blood transfusions which can result to iron accumulation.
What are the risk factors for Hemochromatosis:
- Having 2 or more mutated HFE gene can make a person more susceptible to Hemochromatosis.
- If you have a sibling or a parent who has Hemochromatosis, you are more likely to develop this disorder.
- If you are a male, you are at a higher risk of developing Hemochromatosis. This usually occurs because, women lose iron when they menstruate or during pregnancy. The risk of Hemochromatosis can increase in women if they undergo a hysterectomy or a menopause.
If Hemochromatosis is not treated on time, it can give rise to liver cirrhosis, pancreas problems, heart problems, reproductive problems and changes in skin color.
Treatable by medical professional
Require medical diagnosis
Lab test always required
Darkening of the skin
Abnormal heart rhythm