Hemochromatosis is a health disorder where excess iron accumulates in your body. The iron builds up in the liver, heart, pancreas, skin, blood, and joints. The condition is in most cases inherited. That means it is passed down from parent to child. If not properly mitigated, the condition can lead to diabetes, liver disease, heart attack and other serious health challenges.
When you have Hemochromatosis, your body absorbs more iron than it needs and is unable to get rid of the excess. It ends up storing the excess iron in the various body parts we’ve mentioned above.
How’s hemochromatosis related to weight loss?
There is confusion and misinformation about the relationship between hemochromatosis and weight loss. Some quarters argue that hemochromatosis is pro-obesity, while some believe that it is anti-obesity.
According to a study by Mousa Al-Abbas on hemochromatosis and obesity, the likelihood of becoming obese as a result of hemochromatosis depends on other factors. It depends on factors such as calorie intake, genetics, and others. Also, losing weight can help deal reduce the effects of hemochromatosis.
How severe can hemochromatosis get?
As mentioned above, hemochromatosis causes other health challenges if it is not kept in check. In most instances, the condition manifests itself when one is at least 40 years old. The symptoms and effects are worse if you are overweight.
You will have to go on a diet and take other weight loss measures as part of mitigating the condition. Even if you are not overweight, you must check your diet in order to reduce your iron intake. The revised diet will reduce your calorie intake in most cases.
Depending on the severity of the condition, you might have to get treatment or manage the condition at home. If it is not too severe, you can manage the condition by being careful about your iron and calorie intake. Here are some of the measures that you can take.
- Take tea and coffee often. These beverages are known to reduce the amount of iron absorbed into your body after you eat some food.
- Avoid using iron utensils. Food can absorb iron from iron utensils. That means food cooked and served in iron utensils is likely to have higher iron levels than ordinary.
- Avoid any products that have iron and vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to promote the absorption of iron into the body. The goal here is to minimize the amount of iron getting into your body as much as possible. Most foods have iron, and it’s impossible to stay away from some of them. You’d literary starve if you had to stay away from anything that has a trace of iron.
- Stay away from alcohol. Your liver is already vulnerable to damage when you have hemochromatosis. Alcohol will only make things worse because it stresses your liver.
How can you tell you have hemochromatosis?
We’ve already mentioned that most people will not see any symptoms until they are over 40. What kind of symptoms are we talking about?
The symptoms might include;
- Abdominal pain
- Unexpected weight loss/gain
- Low libido
- Yellowish skin
- Unstable moods
These symptoms are too general and they can be caused by anything. As such, the best way to diagnose hemochromatosis is to get a blood test. You can go for the test even if you do not have the listed symptoms.
Your doctor will tell you if you need more attention or not. Usually, the first thing you doctor will do when your diagnosis comes back positive is give you hepatitis A & B vaccines. They are supposed to protect your liver.
How is hemochromatosis treated?
The treatment of hemochromatosis involves phlebotomy. Phlebotomy is periodic removal of the blood. Most of the iron accumulates in the blood. Some of your blood is removed so that your body can form fresh blood and dilute the iron levels in your body.
If your levels of iron are high, the phlebotomy sessions might be frequent at first. You can have your blood drawn once or twice a week depending on how much blood you have and how strong your body is. The frequency will reduce as the iron levels in your body reduce.