Haemochromatosis is one of the most common hereditary diseases. Its main role is in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When too much iron is taken up it slowly builds up in various parts of the body, including the liver, heart and pancreas. It may be many years before there are any symptoms of haemochromatosis and when problems do arise they are often very vague and can be confused with many other conditions. This is the most common of all the genetic conditions; it is even more common than cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy. Sometimes the skin has a ‘sun-tanned’ colour. If the pancreas is affected, diabetic complications may occur. Heart problems such as palpitations and shortness of breath can also happen.
Symptoms of Haemochromatosis
Some Symptoms of Haemochromatosis :
Bronze skin pigmentation
Loss of sex drive
Discomfort in the upper stomach
Diabetic symptoms such as excessive thirst and frequent urination .
Treatment of Haemochromatosis
Reducing the amount of iron absorbed by the body – patients are advised to avoid iron-rich foods and alcohol.
Removing excess iron from the body by removing blood from the body (venesection therapy or phlebotomy), often a pint a week, until iron levels in the blood are normal. .
Avoiding vitamin supplements containing vitamin C and iron
Avoiding excessive red meat and liver in the diet
Sexual dysfunction and arthritis do not usually improve. Indeed arthritis may appear later even if absent at the time of diagnosis and treatment