Let's talk about Hemochromatosis

in StemSocial10 months ago

Our body needs a metabolic balance in order to guarantee its health, that is, the amount of substances that are produced as metabolic waste must be eliminated, the elements that enter the body must be used, and those that are eliminated. All this with the intention that they do not accumulate in the body and avoid alterations in the state of health of various organs.

This can be seen as a cause of many diseases, in this particular case that I want to talk about in this publication, is a disease that fortunately is rare to diagnose but it exists, and you have to know it so that at least it is a possibility within differential diagnosis, this is the Hemochromatosis.

It is one of many diseases that can appear and be confused with others for its diversity of symptoms, and in some cases even cause death if it is not diagnosed. If you want to learn about this disease I invite you to continue reading this publication.

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I will start by saying that it is a hereditary disease, so if there is a family history, we should think about it when a patient presents for consultation with the symptoms that I will explain later. This disease specifically affects the metabolism of iron, which is absorbed in food in large quantities and this accumulates in various organs to such levels that it causes dysfunction in these.

As I have mentioned in other opportunities, iron is an essential element in our body, it forms an elemental part of hemoglobin and it is this which is responsible for transporting iron, and at the same time oxygen to all the cells of our body to use it to produce energy.

The metabolism of iron is controlled by several ways, one of these is the absorption of this element from the food in our diet, and is the main way by which it enters, therefore, presumably if for some reason there is an uncontrolled absorption, which is increased in this case, iron could accumulate in our body.

The other way in which we can see a Hemochromatosis (secondary in this case) is when there is a disease of the red blood cells or the hemoglobin itself, and the destruction of these is increased with the consequent liberation to the blood of all the iron, which is going to accumulate in some organs causing damage.

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This is how we have an excess production and its subsequent accumulation and a decrease in elimination.

The whole organism is affected, therefore we will see very diverse symptomatology, and there are even cases in which no symptoms appear, or if they do, it is usually when the disease is already very advanced. Among the most common symptoms are tiredness or fatigue, joint pain, heart failure, loss of sexual desire, abdominal pain, something very particular is the change in skin color, which can become a grayish tone.

Each of these symptoms is due to the accumulation of iron in many parts of the body, even some cases of Diabetes have been related to this disease. But of all the complications, the most severe is due to the fact that where the greatest amount of iron is concentrated is in the liver, and considering the importance of this organ in all metabolic activities of the body, its damage implies many more things.

It can lead to liver cirrhosis, and even liver cancer due to the high concentration of iron in its tissues. And when the symptoms are not perceived at an early stage, assessing the levels of iron in the blood, among other things, it is often difficult to counteract it.

Pixabay/ Author: IMGMIDI

There is no cure, and this is the worst part, since it is a hereditary disease, and if it is generated with the genes provided by both parents there are many possibilities of it being expressed, but if only one of the genes is inherited by the father or mother, the chances of suffering the disease decrease, however, the gene can be passed to the child, who could present the disease.

The best thing to do is to treat the disease, and the treatment is quite comprehensive, it is not just taking a treatment and that's it, it involves among other things the removal of blood from the body, this helps to reduce the levels of iron it contains, also by removing the abundant red blood cells, forces the body to produce more and use the circulating iron for the production of hemoglobin, as you might guess, it is not something that can be done constantly.

It is also a treatment that is not easy to carry out, because the tendency is for the patient to become weaker, and by drawing blood you are also eliminating white cells, which are the ones that are in charge of the body's defense.

The diet is particularly important in the treatment, there are foods that are rich in iron, and they cannot be consumed, neither vitamin C, since this helps the absorption of iron from food. As I said before, the main organ that is affected is the liver, therefore, alcoholic beverages are also eliminated, because of the liver damage they produce, the consumption of raw meat or fish is forbidden, because when immunosuppressed they are more prone to contract serious infections.

Pixabay/ Author: silviarita

Additionally there is something called chelators, which can be administered intravenously or orally and allows the iron to be expelled in the feces and urine, but it is not as effective.

In this case we could say that the treatment is also a cause of serious situations, but it is the integral management that allows the person to feel a little better in spite of the disease and its complications.

It is something hereditary, so it is not easy to avoid, therefore if it is present it must be treated by specialists, who will be the ones to provide tools to make life a little more bearable.

I hope this publication has provided new knowledge for those who take the time to read this post. Thank you very much.


Wow, the treatment process is quite elaborate. But what if the person is battling other comorbidities?

It is a good questionn @sam9999, these patients are generally cared for by several specialists, gastroenterologists, internists, hematologists, in short, together they must look for what is best for the patient, and it will never be easy to care for them. If blood cannot be drawn, chelation is used, if you have kidney failure, then dialysis will be used, and so on, each case is particular.

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