Hemochromatosis Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
Iron is a very important nutrient that help's your blood cell's hemoglobin carry oxygen throughout your body. Your body absorbs iron from the food you eat, and under healthy conditions, only absorbs what is naturally lost each day. An overproduction of iron can be toxic.
Hemochromatosis is the access buildup of iron in the liver, heart, and pancreas causing fatigue, low libido, and abdominal pain, and can lead to cirrhosis, arthritis, and heart failure.
If you have hemochromatosis, you will undergo blood transfusions to remove the extra iron from your blood. To speak to a specialist in Santa Monica who can provide this treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
What Are Symptoms of Hemochromatosis?
Half of people who have hemochromatosis don't have symptoms (asymptomatic). Those who show symptoms may experience:
- joint and knuckle pain
- unexplained weight loss
- bronze or gray colored skin
- abdominal pain
- low libido
- loss of body hair
- memory fog
Men will show symptoms between the ages of 30-50, and women will show symptoms when they are over 50 or past menopause, as women loose iron thorough their periods. Hemochromatosis causes conditions like:
- heart failure
- erectile dysfunction
What Causes Hemochromatosis?
There are different kinds of hemochromatosis, each with their own causes:
primary hemochromatosis: also called hereditary hemochromatosis, this is a genetic disorder passed down from generation to generation; mutations to a hemochromatosis gene called HFE (C282Y and H63D) is often the cause of primary hemochromatosis:
- inheriting 2 abnormal genes may cause you to develop hemochromatosis and pass it on to your children; affects about five out of 1,000 people
- inheriting 1 abnormal gene will make you a gene mutation carrier; you will not have hemochromatosis, but you can pass it onto your children; about 1 in 12 Caucasians are carriers
- secondary hemochromatosis: this is caused by other conditions, like anemia, liver disease , and blood transfusions
- juvenile hemochromatosis: caused by mutations in the hemojuvelin or hepcidin genes; similar to hereditary hemochromatosis, but causes symptoms in adults
- neonatal hemochromatosis: an autoimmune disease that causes the build-up of iron in a developing fetus
Caucasians are more likely to get hereditary hemochromatosis, and men are five times more likely to have it than women. Eating lots of vitamin C can also make the condition worse.
How is Hemochromatosis Diagnosed?
The symptoms of hemochromatosis are the same as many other symptoms. This is why hemochromatosis is usually diagnosed with the following hemochromatosis blood tests:
- serum transferrin saturation: this measures the amount of iron in your blood; values greater than 45% are considered too high
- serum ferritin: this measures the amount of iron in your liver; used if your transferrin saturation levels are too high
Other tests can include:
- liver biopsy: checks for liver damage
- MRI: this can analyze your organs
- physical exam: can detect other conditions
- medical history: to search for a history of hemochromatosis in your family
How is Hemochromatosis Treated?
Treatment for hereditary (genetic) hemochromatosis is phlebotomy, the removing of blood from your body. The goal of phlebotomy is to reduce the iron in your blood and return the levels to normal.
Phlebotomy consists of:
- initial treatment: one pint (400-500ml)1 of blood is removed once or twice a week
- maintenance treatment: once your iron levels return to normal, less blood can be removed two-four months
The amount of blood removed will depend on your age, overall health, and severity of your condition. It's important that you eat enough and are hydrated when using this treatment.1 Side effects of phlebotomy can include fatigue, discomfort, and anemia (from too much bleeding).
Liver transplants are also mainly used to treat neonatal hemochromatosis.
If you cannot have blood removed due to anemia or heart complications, chelation pills or injections can remove excess iron. Side effects can include pain at the injection side and flu-like symptoms.
For secondary hemochromatosis (caused by anemia or blood transfusions) the best clinically proven naturopathic remedy is turmeric supplementation. Turmeric has been shown to reduce iron absorption and remove iron safely and effectively by lowering ferritin and chelating iron from the body.
Lifestyle and home remedies to treat hemochromatosis include avoiding alcohol, avoiding vitamin C and iron supplements, and avoidance of iron-fortified breakfast cereals1, raw fish, and shellfish. You may also need treatment for conditions that are caused by hemochromatosis, like cirrhosis.
As with any medical procedure, results of these treatments will vary from patient to patient, depending on age, genetics, severity of patient's condition, and other health factors.
Reserve Your Appointment Now
While iron is necessary to your health, too much iron can cause serious issues. This is why it's important to return your blood iron levels to normal if they aren't so. To find a hemochromatosis specialist to undergo a hemochromatosis test in Santa Monica, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
1. Adams, Paul et al. “Therapeutic Recommendations in HFE Hemochromatosis for p.Cys282Tyr (C282Y/C282Y) Homozygous Genotype.” Hepatology International 12.2 (2018): 83–86. PMC. Web. 2 July 2018.
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