Hereditary Hemochromatosis Explained by a Doctor

In an article posted by the Wyoming Medical Center, Dr. Adam Linck clears up some common questions concerning hereditary hemochromatosis.

People living with this condition have an excess amount of iron that accumulates in tissue throughout the body, including in the heart and liver. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a genetic condition—which is inherited directly from one’s parents—and is more common in caucasians in Europe and the United States. It is very unlikely for the disorder to turn up in other demographics. If it isn’t managed correctly, the disorder could be life threatening.

Dr. Linck discusses a number of the symptoms associated with hereditary hemochromatosis. Some of these include atypical blood counts, dark skin patches, liver problems and diabetes. People living with the disorder may also experience an enlarged heart, underactive thyroid or tiredness, just to name a few.

The onset of hereditary hemochromatosis may come later for women and earlier for men. Women do not usually have the amounts of iron necessary for overload because they lose some of that iron during menstruation. Therefore, they may not be affected until their 50s or 60s. Family history, unexplained arthritis or fatigue or diabetes with change in skin color may indicate diagnosis. Hereditary hemochromatosis can be detected by drawing blood. Genetic testing may also be administered.

Individuals may commit to blood draws for treatment. While there are no specific medications for the disorder, people can get their blood drawn regularly—literally removing blood from their body to manually lower their iron levels.

If you’ve been diagnosed with hereditary hemochromatosis, don’t panic. There is help! Click here for more on treatment and when you may need to visit your doctor.

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