Hereditary hemochromatosis is a condition that causes the body to absorb too much iron from the food eaten. The excess iron is stored in the organs like the liver, heart and the pancreas. This excess amount of iron can be a poison to these organs and can cause certain conditions such as cancer, heart arrhythmias and cirrhosis. Men are more susceptible to this condition. Symptoms occur during mid-life and iron levels can drop to safer levels by regularly removing blood from the body. If you want to learn more about this condition, read here.
Symptoms of hemochromatosis include fatigue, joint pain and weakness. Symptoms of hemochromatosis with organ damage in men include the loss of sex drive or libido, pain in the joints, diabetes, heart failure and impotence.
Hereditary hemochromatosis is present at birth and the symptoms occur between the ages 50 and 60 in men and after 60 in women, usually after menopause.
Causes of hereditary hemochromatosis
Hereditary hemochromatosis is caused by the mutations in a gene that function in controlling the amount of iron the body absorbs from the foods that are eaten. The mutations that cause hereditary hemochromatosis can be passed by parents to children.
Types of hemochromatosis
- Juvenile hemochromatosis is where iron accumulation begins earlier and symptoms usually happen between the ages of 15 and 30.
- Neonatal hemochromatosis where iron builds up rapidly in the liver of the developing fetus.
- Secondary hemochromatosis is a form of disease that is not inherited and the iron build-up is caused by another disease such as anemia, chronic liver disease or an infection.
An untreated hereditary hemochromatosis can cause some complications in the joints and in some organs where excess iron builds up such as the liver, pancreas and heart, and these complications including the following conditions:
- Cirrhosis involves permanent scarring of the liver and increases the risk of acquiring cancer and other dangerous conditions.
- Problems of the pancreas that will cause diabetes
- Hemochromatosis can cause abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias
- Excess iron can cause erectile dysfunction which is also known as impotence and loss of sex drive in men and absence of the menstruation in women.
- Plenty of iron deposit in the body makes the color of skin bronze or gray.
Treatment and home remedies
- Avoid taking supplements and multivitamins that contains iron will increase the levels of iron even more.
- Avoid taking vitamin C supplements especially together with food since it will increase the absorption of iron. Just drink vitamin C-rich juices such as orange juice between meals.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
- Avoid eating raw shellfish since people suffering from hereditary hemochromatosis are susceptible to infection that is caused by bacteria that is found in raw shellfish.
- Drink tannin-rich tea in order to slow down the build-up of iron in the body.