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What is hemochromatosis and what symptoms can indicate it?

Hemochromatosis is a condition that is characterized by increasedabsorption of iron from the food. Even though people generally tend to absorbabout 10 % of iron, those who suffer from this condition absorb as much as 30 %of the iron from the food. Over time, the person with this condition canaccumulate even 20 times more iron than it is normal. This condition is alsohereditary and it is not always easy to diagnose it. It might cause seriousdamage to the liver, heart and pancreas, because in the tissues of these organsextra amounts of iron are stored. This is why the symptoms that might indicatethis condition are the symptoms of various diseases that are related to theseorgans, particularly the liver. Pain in the upper part of the abdomen, pain inthe joints, fatigue, amenorrhea and decreased sex drive are some of the mostfrequent signs. As for the period of life in which they begin to appear, peoplewho are between 30 and 50 years old seem to be more frequently affected thanothers. Women who are in menopause are also at higher risk of developing thesymptoms because they do not lose iron with periods as they used to.

When it comes to risk groups, besides those whose familymembers suffer from this condition, people who are at higher risk of gettinghereditary hemochromatosis are those from the Northern Europe and according tostatistics, male population is much more likely to develop the signs early.

How to treat it and can it be cured?

Since this condition is congenital, it cannot be cured, butthere are some ways in which it can be treated effectively. Phlebotomy orremoval of blood from time to time can help in lowering the levels of iron, butthe amount that will be removed depends on factors such as age, overall healthand accumulated iron. It is necessary to start with the treatment in order to preventserious damage to the organs and serious diseases that threaten to affect these organs. If aperson already suffers from some condition due to hemochromatosis, in this wayit is possible to prevent its progression. Still, it is important to know thatnot everyone can undergo phlebotomy, and for those people there are medicationsthat can help the body to get rid of certain amount of iron from the blood.

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