What is the cause of high blood iron in the body or hemochromatosis?

Although iron is an essential mineral for our health, like many other substances in the body, its excess amounts are troublesome and may even cause death.

Iron in the body
The most important role of iron in the body is to participate in the production of the hemoglobin molecule, which is located in red blood cells. This molecule is responsible for carrying oxygen. Therefore, it can be said that the most important mineral in our body is iron, which plays a vital role in breathing. In addition, iron is used in other ways in the body and plays a role in some chemical reactions.

How much iron should be stored in the body?
As we said, iron plays a role in the production of hemoglobin, which is usually represented by the symbol Hb in blood tests. If the iron in the body is low, the amount of Hb often decreases. In the test, in addition to measuring blood iron level, two other factors namely TIBC and Ferritin are also measured.

In fact, the answer to the question of how much iron should be stored in the body is determined by Ferritin. Ferritin shows the amount of iron reserves in the body, which should be 336-24 for men and 307-11 micrograms per liter for women. TIBC also shows the total iron binding capacity, which is actually the amount of vacancies in hemoglobin for iron atoms, and the lower it is, the more iron the body has.

The amount of iron in the blood test is 60 to 170 micrograms per deciliter, which is a little less in women. It should be noted that different iron compounds or iron ions may be measured, in which case the laboratory may report a different normal range.

Various tests and experiments may also be done to detect high iron in the blood as well as check its complications.

Cause of high blood iron
Unlike many other substances, iron is hardly removed from the body, so its excess amounts quickly accumulate in the body and increase its amount. Accumulation of iron in the blood is called hemochromatosis.

Hemochromatosis is divided into primary and secondary types. In the first type, the cause of iron accumulation is a genetic problem that causes the absorption of iron from the digestive system to not be well controlled, as a result, its amount in the body increases. In the secondary or acquired type, there is no direct genetic problem to increase iron, but secondary processes cause an increase in iron in the body.

In the first place, the simplest reason for high blood iron levels is secondary iron overconsumption, which mostly occurs in self-administration and a large number of iron tablets. In this case, iron usually increases to a moderate amount and does not accumulate in the body; Because the absorption of iron from the digestive system decreases.

Patients with thalassemia, sickle cell anemia and other types of hemolytic anemias (hemolytic anemias are a group of causes of anemia that cause anemia due to the loss of red blood cells) usually need frequent blood transfusions. In these people, red blood cells are lost for various reasons and they need frequent blood transfusions to continue living.

The iron that is present in the destroyed red blood cells is not easily removed from the body after the death of these cells, and repeated blood transfusions lead to the accumulation of high amounts of iron in the blood, which is one of the important causes of high blood iron levels.

Effects of too much iron in the body
As we said, if iron is present in a large amount in the body, it is not easily excreted and accumulates in the body. The harm of high iron in the body is due to the deposition of iron in different organs. Iron is deposited in the liver, pancreas, heart, skin, cartilages and testicles and causes disturbances in the functioning of these organs. For example, iron deposition in cartilages causes false gout.

Symptoms of high iron in the body
In addition to the organs mentioned above, iron deposition may also occur in other places such as the eyes. The symptoms and disadvantages of high iron in the body, which are more common and important, are:

liver enlargement;
Cirrhosis of the liver;
change in skin color;
Disturbance in blood sugar regulation due to the destruction of pancreatic islets of Langerhans and decreased insulin production;
dysfunction of the heart;
Arthritis;
Glandular and gonadal problems.
If hemochromatosis is not treated, it can cause organ failure such as liver cirrhosis and heart disease and may lead to death.

Treatment of high blood iron
Hemochromatosis is more common in men and often appears after the age of 40. The basis of treatment for high blood iron is the removal of excess iron; Now you may be wondering what to eat to reduce blood iron.

A simple treatment for iron removal is phlebotomy. It should be noted that this method is performed in hereditary or primary hemochromatosis and is not performed in cases of hemolytic anemia. In phlebotomy, about half a liter of blood is taken from the person every week or every two weeks and discarded. In this condition, the body uses its stored iron to produce new blood cells.

Another way to treat high blood iron levels is to use iron chelator drugs. There are several types of iron chelator drugs, one of which is deferoxamine. These drugs remove iron from the body and are effective in reducing blood iron. These drugs are available in injectable and oral form, which are more effective in the injectable form; However, they can excrete up to 20 mg of iron per day, which is much less than phlebotomy.

Note that both blood count and the use of these drugs must be under the supervision of a doctor and should not be done on your own; Because the use of these methods is prohibited in some people and may cause serious side effects.

If your blood iron is high, you should drastically reduce or completely stop drinking alcohol to lower blood iron; Because high iron increases the risk of liver cirrhosis 10 times, and this risk becomes much more serious when accompanied by alcohol consumption.

Also, the consumption of additional vitamin C and iron supplements should be avoided for people with hemochromatosis.

Frequently asked questions about from the cause to the side effects of high iron in the body

What are the effects of high iron in the body?
The high level of iron in the body causes iron deposition in various organs and disrupts the functioning of those organs and may even cause liver, heart and kidney failure.

What is the cause of high iron in the body?
High blood iron is either a result of a genetic problem that disrupts the regulation of iron absorption, or it is a result of receiving too much iron in various ways, such as blood transfusions.

What should we eat to reduce blood iron?
The two main ways to treat high iron in the blood are blood clots and the use of iron chelator drugs.‚Äč

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