Iron overload diseases are a group of medical diseases that cause the body to store excessive amounts of iron. These include hereditary hemochromatosis, a genetic disease in which the body absorbs too much iron in blood from food and drinks.
The human body cannot excrete excess iron, so it is stored in specific organs, especially the liver, heart, and pancreas, which can cause organ damage. Damage to the exocrine glands will lead to polygenic diseases. The untreated surplus tin can also make the skin become bronzed.
Through treatment, people with this disease will have a good appearance. Treatment may include blood draws to reduce the body’s iron content and dietary changes to reduce iron intake. This article will study the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments of iron overload disorder.
What is too much iron in blood disease?
When iron stores are sufficient in a healthy body, the intestines will reduce the absorption of this mineral in food and beverages to prevent its content from becoming too high.
People with iron overload disease absorb more iron from food or supplements than usual. The body cannot expel excess iron fast enough, so it continues to accumulate. The human body stores it in organs and tissues, mainly in the liver, heart, and pancreas.
There are several types of iron overload barriers. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a significant disease with a genetic component. People may also suffer from secondary hemochromatosis, which develops due to another disease or condition.
The reason of too much iron in blood
There are several types of iron overload barriers, each with different causes:
Primary hemochromatosis: gene mutation
Hereditary hemochromatosis, also known as primary or classic hemochromatosis. It is one of the most common genetic diseases in the United States. Not everyone has this symptom.
This situation mainly affects whites. According to a 2018 “Trusted Source” study, in the United States and Australia, about 1 in 200 white people have hereditary hemochromatosis, and 10-14% of these people carry genetic mutations.
Hereditary hemochromatosis occurs due to mutations in a gene called HFE. This gene controls the amount of iron absorbed by the body.
In the United States, most trusted sources with hereditary hemochromatosis have inherited two copies of C282Y, one from the mother and the other from the father. People who inherit only one defective gene may not develop iron overload syndrome, but they will become carriers and absorb more iron than ordinary people.
Even if each unit carrier in the elderly area, their children may have four wrong genes, and each parent has one wrong gene. It is the fourth part. However, some individuals with two copies of the C282Y mutation may not have professional symptoms.
Some people will inherit a C282Y mutation and an H63D mutation. A small percentage of these people will develop symptoms of hemochromatosis. It is rare to inherit two copies of H63D, and research has not yet confirmed whether this may increase the risk of hemochromatosis.
Secondary hemochromatosis: the result of a condition
According to sources of trust from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Secondary, hemochromatosis can be caused by certain types of anemia (as thalassemia). Or chronic liver disease (as chronic hepatitis C infection. Or alcohol-related liver disease).
Blood transfusion, taking oral iron pills, injection of iron, or long-term kidney dialysis can also cause secondary hemochromatosis.
Juvenile hemochromatosis is a genetic disease caused by a gene defect called HJV. Iron accumulates early in life, and symptoms appear between 15 and 30 years of age.
Symptoms include diabetes and sexual development problems. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
In newborns with neonatal hemochromatosis, iron accumulates rapidly in the liver so that the baby is either stillborn or unable to survive after birth. Research shows that the cause is not hereditary. It may be because the mother’s immune system produces antibodies that damage the fetus’s liver.
Risk factors of too much iron in blood
The following risk factors may increase a person’s likelihood of developing hemochromatosis:
Genetic factors: Having two defective copies of the HFE gene is the leading risk factor for hereditary hemochromatosis. The person inherited a copy of the mutated HFE gene from each parent. H means high, and FE means iron.
Family history: Parents, children, brothers, or sisters with hemochromatosis are more likely to get hemochromatosis.
Race: According to NHLBI sources, whites of Nordic descent have HFE gene mutations and a higher risk of developing hemochromatosis. They point out that this is rare among African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians.
Gender: Iron overload affects both men and women, although the effect on iron may be small. The reason is that most women often lose blood during menstruation, and blood loss reduces iron content. Men may develop symptoms in their 40s-60s.
Symptom of too much iron in blood
So, the signs and symptoms of iron overload are usually mild. According to a report from Trusted Source in 2019, of the 4 cases, three people with iron overload have no symptoms.
Usually, women do not show signs of trust until middle-aged or postmenopausal. Nowadays, people with hemochromatosis are less likely to develop symptoms because the diagnosis is often made earlier than in the past.
If the condition worsens, the main symptoms include:
- Fatigue or fatigue
- lose weight
- stomach ache
- High blood sugar
- Pigmentation or the skin becomes bronzed
- Loss of libido or decreased libido
- In men, testicular size decreases
- In women, menstruation is reduced or absent
- Over time, the following situations may occur:
- Liver disease or cirrhosis (permanent scars)
- Enlarged liver
- heart disease
Hemochromatosis may be difficult to diagnose from symptoms. Because these symptoms may overlap with symptoms of other diseases. The doctor may decide to refer the person to a liver specialist (liver specialist) or cardiologist (cardiologist).
Some tests can help doctors diagnose hemochromatosis. These include blood tests, liver tests, MRI scans, and genetic tests.
Two different types of blood tests can detect iron overload even before symptoms appear.
The serum transferrin saturation test measures the amount of iron bound to transferrin, a protein that carries iron in the blood. A saturation value exceeding 45% of the “trusted source” is too high.
The serum ferritin test measures the amount of iron stored in the body. Knowing these levels can help doctors diagnose a person and monitor them during treatment.
The doctor needs to perform blood tests twice and may need to repeat the blood tests twice to improve accuracy because other conditions also increase ferritin levels.
These are not routine blood tests, and doctors usually only perform tests in a parent, child, or sibling with hemochromatosis.
However, people may also undergo these tests. Even if they have any of the following signs, symptoms, and conditions:
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Erectile dysfunction
- Extreme fatigue
- heart disease
Also, in some people who drink too much alcohol or have blood transfusions or hepatitis C, the results of these blood tests may indicate iron overload.
These other tests can help confirm the diagnosis of hereditary hemochromatosis:
MRI scans to check iron levels in the liver
A liver biopsy can determine the iron level in the liver. It shows any cirrhosis or other damage, but this test is no longer standard.
Treatment of too much iron in blood
Even If a person is diagnosed and treated early, they usually have an average life expectancy. They should have regular blood tests, and treatment usually lasts a lifetime.
There are several treatments for iron overload:
Bloodletting or puncture is a routine treatment that removes iron-rich blood from the body.
Usually, this needs to be done once a week until the level returns to normal. When the iron level rises again, the person will need to repeat the treatment.
How much blood the doctor needs and how much blood depends on:
- The person’s age and gender
- The overall health of this person
The severity too much iron in blood
In the early stages of treatment, doctors may remove 1 pint of blood from trusted sources once or twice a week. After that, they may clear the blood every 2-4 months.
Bloodletting cannot reverse cirrhosis, but it can improve nausea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. It can also improve heart function and joint pain.
Iron chelation therapy involves taking orally or injecting drugs to remove excess iron from the body. Drugs may include drugs that bind excessive iron before the body excretes it.
Although doctors do not recommend it as a first-line treatment for hemochromatosis. It may be suitable for some people.
Dietary changes to limit iron intake can help reduce symptoms. Diet changes can include:
Avoid iron supplements
Avoid supplements containing vitamin C as this vitamin increases iron absorption.
- Reduce iron and iron-rich foods
- Avoid raw fish and shellfish
- Limit alcohol intake because it damages the liver
- Without treatment, the accumulation of iron can lead to health complications, such as:
- Liver cirrhosis
- Higher chance of liver cancer related to cirrhosis or hemochromatosis
Diabetes and related complications
If too much iron accumulates in the heart and the body cannot circulate enough blood, congestive heart failure
- Irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia, causing chest pain, heart, and dizziness
- Endocrine problems, such as hypothyroidism or hypogonadism
- Arthritis, osteoarthritis, or osteoporosis
- The skin is bronze or gray due to the deposition of iron in skin cells
Other complications may include depression, gallbladder disease, and certain cancers.
According to research by the Iron Disorders Institute. Some autopsies have shown that people with neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy). It has problems with iron levels in the brain.
Symptoms that may indicate a severe condition
- stomach ache.
- Enlarged liver.
- Irritability and mood changes.
- Severe pain.
- Changes in skin color.
FAQ about too much iron in blood
What is the side effect of too much iron in blood?
Too much iron can damage the gastrointestinal system. Symptoms of iron poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Over time, iron can accumulate in the organs and cause fatal damage to the liver or brain.
Which foods can reduce iron content in the body?
Grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds
All grains, beans, seed, and nuts contain phytic acid or phytic acid, which reduces iron absorption. So, eating foods rich in phytic acids, such as beans, nuts, and whole grains. Also, you can reduce the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods. As a result, it can reduce the total iron content in the body.
If my iron is high, what should I eat?
Also, foods to eat for hemochromatosis fruits and vegetables. When hemochromatosis occurs, excessive iron will increase oxidative stress and free radical activity. So, it may damage your DNA.
- Cereals and legumes.
- Tea and coffee.
How to quickly reduce iron content?
Diet changes can include:
Avoid supplements that contain iron.
Avoid supplements containing vitamin C, as this vitamin increases iron absorption.
Also, Reduce iron-rich and fortified foods.
So, avoid raw fish and shellfish.
Also, limit alcohol intake, as this can damage the liver.
What are the symptoms of excessive iron in the blood?
Also, Symptoms of high blood iron include systemic abdominal symptoms, fatigue and drowsiness, darkening of the skin, weight loss, and weakness.
Conclusion about too much iron in blood
Iron overload diseases, such as primary hemochromatosis. Involve excessive levels of iron accumulation in the body. Even if left untreated, the disease can cause severe complications and may even be life-threatening.
In 2007, Canadian researchers concluded that Trusted Source considered hemochromatosis “a common and relatively simple genetic disease.”
So, through treatment, people can achieve an average life expectancy. Especially the early diagnosis and effective treatment.