Iron overload, commonly known as haemochromatosis, is a condition wherein an individual’s body unusually retains an amount of iron. It is often inherited. Because the body cannot remove extra iron, it stores it in specific organs, particularly the pancreas, liver, and heart, which may cause organ damage. Furthermore, diabetes may be caused by pancreatic damage. Iron overload disorder also renders the skin a bronze tone if not treated.
People with such an illness have a good prognosis if they get treatment. Treatments may involve taking blood to lower the body’s iron level and dietary modifications to limit iron consumption. Continue reading to find out why people need iron and why an iron overload test is essential.
Why Do You Need Iron?
Iron is a mineral that may be found in a variety of foods. It is needed because it:
- produces specific hormones in our body
- creates RBCs
- helps hemoglobin in transporting oxygen around the body.
Individual intestines usually absorb exactly the appropriate iron from the food they consume. However, when they have hemochromatosis, their body absorbs additional iron and keeps it in the organs, particularly the liver, pancreas, and heart.
What Is the Risk of Having Too Much Iron?
Too much iron might be dangerous. For instance, having too much iron in the heart may lead to:
Meanwhile, it may cause the following in the liver:
- Enlarged liver
- Liver failure
- Liver cancer
Additionally, iron overload can lead to:
- Early menopause and erectile dysfunction
- Spleen and gallbladder problems
- Skin that seems notably greyer or bronzer than usual.
If the disorder is not addressed, it might be fatal.
Iron Overload Symptoms
Not everyone with iron overload has indications. Some individuals with too much iron levels have no concerns; some have significant symptoms.
Symptoms typically do not show until middle age, and they frequently resemble symptoms of other illnesses. These warning indicators could include:
- General weakness
- Iron fist
- Stomach pain
- Heart flutters
- Joint pain
- unexplained weight loss
What Tests Are Needed to Check Out Iron Overload?
An individual’s physician may consider the following:
- Serum ferritin. This iron overload test determines how much iron is accumulated in one’s liver. If their test results are greater than expected, their physician will evaluate their serum ferritin.
- Serum transferrin saturation. An iron overload test determines the quantity of iron linked to a protein in an individual’s blood that transports iron. Saturation levels of transferrin of more than 45% are considered excessive.
- Liver biopsy. A procedure in which a small needle extracts a small amount of liver tissue for examination under a microscope.
How Is Iron Overload Treated?
Dietary adjustments and other therapies may help alleviate iron overload indications. People could also help avoid or delay future organ damage:
- Therapeutic phlebotomy
- Diet changes
- Iron chelation therapy
If another illness causes iron overload, an individual might also need therapy for it. In addition, healthcare practitioners may advise addressing any hemochromatosis-related issues.
Moreover, iron overload is a prevalent illness wherein the body stores excessive iron. Although it may cause major difficulties, it is very treatable, mainly if diagnosed early. However, if left untreated, the illness may cause major consequences and even death.
Talk to your doctor and get your iron checked with an iron overload test.