Anyone can tell you that life sometimes wears us down. With so much to do and too little time, we sometimes find ourselves running on inadequate sleep and Starbucks lattes.
However, the symptoms of being drained and sluggish can also be symptoms of a much more insidious cause then basic stressors… or staying up late to binge-watch your favorite Netflix series.
Sometimes, feelings of tiredness and fatigue can be tied to lack of iron. Some may be tempted to whip out a bottle of iron pills whenever a sluggish drought persists. Indeed, many people associate being tired and weary with iron deficiency and anemia.
But these same symptoms are often overlooked for another condition: not too little iron, but too much! This disorder is called haemochromatosis, or iron overload.
A genetic disorder, haemochromatosis occurs in one person out of 200. The hemochromatosis gene causes a defect in how much iron a person absorbs from foods and supplements. While too little iron is not good for a person, too much of it can affect organs like your heart, pancreas, joints, liver, and hormone glands. This can make a person more susceptible to different diseases like heart and liver disease, as well as arthritis and diabetes.
While tiredness and fatigue may be two signs of this condition, they are not the only ones. Others include:
- Joint pain
- Loss of sex drive
- Heart problems
- Hormonal changes
Also, liver diseases like liver cancer or cirrhosis are symptoms of an advancing condition.
Too much iron is dangerous. It can interfere with normal body functions, thus the different discomforts and issues with organs that can result from this condition being left untreated.
Speaking of treatment, how exactly does one get treated for this disorder?
A doctor can do a simple blood test done to determine if you’re suffering from haemochromatosis. If you are at risk, a gene test can solidify your iron status.
Once diagnosed, treatment is very simple and effective. It’s done through a process called venipuncture (a process comparable to the one done when becoming a regular blood donor), and it results in excess iron being removed from the body.
Remember, for some who are feeling tired and sluggish all the time, that cup of coffee will simply not do the trick. However, a trip to the general practitioner to rule out iron overload can do wonders. Read more here.