Causes and risk factors:
Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder. In cases where both the parents are the carriers of Hemochromatosis, the child is also bound to suffer from it. As the name suggest it is caused due to excessive accumulation of iron in the body. The body absorbs more amount of iron from the food taken in; also the excretion is less as a result there occurs excessive collection of iron in body. This over accumulation then acts as a toxic substance for the various cells of the body. Certain diseases of live like cirrhosis and hepatitis C infection and multiple blood transfusions are also other causes for Hemochromatosis.
There are several types of Hemochromatosis like classic, juvenile, neonatal, African and other types. Liver is the first organ to get affected. Excess of iron stores first occur in liver, then the heart, pituitary gland and other organs are affected. The symptoms appear gradually. Swelling of various joints of the body (arthritis) is the first to occur. Pain in the index and middle fingers, knuckles along with “iron fist” are classical seen. Pain and swelling in abdomen, excessive hunger and thirst, changes in skin color, person develops excessive hunger, frequent urination, jaundice, sexual disturbance etc is seen. As multiple organs are affected, various hormonal changes occur. The blood enzymes, liver enzymes and thyroid hormones are altered. Fatigue, hair loss, menstrual irregularities etc occur. Hemochromatosis can lead to various serious complications like heart failure, testicular atrophy, diabetes mellitus, impotency etc.
Diagnosis and investigations:
Symptoms narrated by the patient along with examination carried out by the doctor will help in confirming the diagnosis. Reviewing of the history is necessary to evaluate the cause. Various routine and specialized blood tests are diagnostic of Hemochromatosis. Serum iron levels, total iron binding capacity, serum ferritin and transferring iron saturation percentage are advised. DNA levels are done to find out the genetic Hemochromatosis. Earlier Liver biopsy used to be done, currently it is not advised.
Although it is and inherited diseases it can be easily treated. Removal of excess of iron from the body is the main line of treatment. Blood donation, therapeutic phlebotomy can be done. Iron chelation (i.e. removal of iron with medications can be done) Red cell apheresis is another method which can be adopted. Symptomatic relief of the symptoms is adopted.
Other modes of treatment:
Certain other modes of treatment can also be helpful in coping up the disease. Taking into consideration the symptoms in holistic way, homoeopathy can offer a good aid for the relief of the symptoms.