The condition in which the human body gets to absorb iron from food intake excessively is termed Hemochromatosis.
This is usually caused by genetic occurance of a faulty gene and would in turn aggravate leading to a steady damage to a good number of organs and tissues.
Hemochromatosis is Also Known As “Bronze Diabetes” due to the presence of pigmented skin and also a rise in blood glucose levels, causing hyperglycemia.
Signs and Symptoms of Hemochromatosis
Looking into the symptoms of hemochromatosis, it becomes clearly visible and obvious at the age of 40 and above.
A few symptoms of Bronze Diabetes are:
- Pain in Joints – Usually Affecting the Fingers (Phalanges and Metacarpals)
- Fatigue and Tiredness
- Sudden bronzing or tanning of the skin
- Erectile dysfunction
- Frequent urination
- Missed or Late Periods
- Body Hair Loss
- Cardiomyopathy – Weakness of the heart muscle
- Increased Thirst
What Actually Causes hemochromatosis?
Hemochromatosis is a generally known genetic condition and could be passed on with inheritance.
Individuals having hemochromatosis have a double set of mutated HFE gene present
Some individuals may have one set of faulty genes, but this isn’t going to indicate hemochromatosis, but there is a high chance of it getting passed on to the children if the partner is also a carrier of the faulty gene.
This Altered gene causes the human body to absorb excess iron content out of food, absorbs more than the body needs or requirements
The Human Body doesn’t have a normal inducing mechanism to remove or excrete iron out of the body, so it in turn stores iron content in the liver, pancreas, and the skin.
Now, too much iron stores in the liver could lead to liver damage and excess iron in the pancreas could turn out into diabetes. This diabetes may be termed secondary diabetes, the reason that it’s caused by a pre-existing medical condition.
Hemochromatosis diagnosis is done with serum ferritin blood test to transferrin saturation.
Also, a DNA blood test may be used to check for a faulty HFE gene, Liver biopsy can be carried out to check if there is damage to the liver.
If seen in a family member, it is advised that everyone in the family go get a diagnosis or test.
Treatment – How is Bronze Diabetes Treated?
Bronze Diabetes or Hemochromatosis is normally treated or suppressed with consistent and continuous phlebotomy.
Phlebotomy is a process in which iron-rich blood is eliminated from the body of an individual, thus reducing the blood-iron composition.
Chelation therapy is another way of treating hemochromatosis which simply involves the intake of the medication called Deferasirox.
The Treatment of Bronze Diabetes (Hemochromatosis) is termed “off-label” it hasn’t been clinically tested or assessed for hemochromatosis.
However, it may perhaps prescribe if one has some health complications like heart disease and anemia so as to prevent one from having phlebotomy
Hemochromatosis and Diabetes
The Treatment of Hemochromatosis may alter the development of diabetes and in some other cases may result to a permanent pancreas damage.
This would alter the release of Insulin and Glucagon which would need Diabetes and Hypoglycemic medications to balance and maintain the blood glucose levels.