Don’t feel bad if you’ve haven’t heard of hemochromatosis – that’s why we are here!
Hemochromatosis (also known as iron overload disorder) is a disease that is often under-diagnosed. It causes excess iron to build up in the body. Even though the body needs iron to survive, the concentration of iron in hemochromatosis is toxic and stored in the body tissues, especially the liver, heart, and pancreas. Without treatment, the build-up of extra iron can cause organ failure.
Undiagnosed and untreated hemochromatosis increases the risk for diseases and conditions like:
- Heart issues
- Cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer
- Gall bladder disease
What are the symptoms?
Chronic fatigue and joint pain are the most common symptoms reported. Because of this, diagnosis is often delayed because these two symptoms are commonly seen in other diseases.
However, pain in the knuckles of the pointer and middle finger, called “The Iron Fist,” is the only sign or symptom specific to hemochromatosis. However, not everyone with HHC experiences the Iron Fist.
Other reported symptoms include:
- Lack of energy
- Abdominal pain
- Memory fog
- Loss of sex drive
- Heart flutters
- Irregular heart beat
What diagnosis tests are available?
There are 3 tests that together make up the Iron Panel Test. These tests look at serum ferritin, total iron binding capacity, and serum iron. These tests need to be taken as a panel, not independently, to receive a comprehensive and accurate assessment of a potential hemochromatosis diagnosis.
What can we do to honor hemochromatosis awareness month?