Haemochromatosis is characterized by excess iron in the body. Just like lack of iron can cause anemia, excessive levels of iron in the blood are toxic. The effects are damaging since the body starts building up tissue. In many cases, haemochromatosis is caused due to an inherited abnormality that causes the body to increase absorption of iron from the intestine. This condition is called primary haemochromatosis. Secondary haemochromatosis occurs when abnormal red blood cells in the body are destroyed and iron is released. This iron dose overload usually affects people in the age group of 30 - 60 years. It is essential to treat this condition lest it lead to heart failure or liver failure.
Persons suffering from haemochromatosis tend to feel fatigue and lethargy. There might be joint pain or arthritis. Men might notice impotence and reduced sex drive. Other symptoms of haemochromatosis are loss of body hair and darkening of skin. Cirrhosis of the liver might occur due to scarring of liver. This is accompanied by abdominal pain, jaundice and enlargement of the liver and spleen. Haemochromatosis can lead to heart failure or abnormal heart rhythms.
Haemochromatosis is diagnosed through blood tests and liver biopsy. Therapeutic venesection or phlebotomy is a process of regular bloodletting, similar to blood donation. Patients suffering from Haemochromatosis must limit the consumption of iron. Excess alcohol consumption must be avoided. Avoid iron supplements and Vitamin C, which aids absorption of iron.