How To Identify Hemochromatosis
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Hemochromatosis is a metabolic defect that is heritable or non-heritable in origin which results due to considerable iron overload. As the body absorbs surfeit iron it tends to amass in the organs like the liver, heart, pancreas, the master endocrine gland and joint areas.
Usually, around ten percent of iron is absorbed by the body from foods like dark meats, cereals or iron-enriched breads. However, the body of an individual having hemochromatosis absorbs nearly five folds that quantity. The additional iron results in free radicals being overly produced that could become perilous to health.
How To Identify Hemochromatosis
Since preliminary symptoms of hemochromatosis are non-specific and at times absent thus the condition might go undetected.
Early Non-Specific Symptoms
The person with hemochromatosis becomes symptomatic once fifteen to twenty grams of iron have accrued in the body. Hence, males have been found to develop symptoms in their forties. As iron is lost through most part of their lifetime via menstruation, gestation and nursing hence, women become symptomatic quite later on as compared to males. Subsequent to many decades of augmented iron uptake by the body the following symptoms are experienced:
Weariness And Weakness
Feeling exhausted or worn out is experienced along with noticeable generalized weakness (all over the body). Around seventy-five percent of symptomatic individuals during diagnosis complain of feeling mentally and physically sluggish, lethargic and weak.
Arthalgia is defined as neurolgic pains felt in a single or multiple joints of the body. The reason for arthalgia among individuals having hemochromatosis isn’t totally comprehended. One theory is the surplus iron presence resulting in crystalline calcium collecting in the spaces of the joints and causing pains.
With passage of time it leads to deformed joints or pseudo-gout. Approximately forty-four percent of symptomatic individuals during diagnosis have arthalgia. The knuckle bones of the index finger and middle finger of the hand are the prevalently afflicted ones.
Abdominal Pains And Discomfort
Hemochromatosis patients experience pains or cramps in the abdomen in the upper right quadrant which is basically where the liver is located.
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Inexplicable Weight Loss
An abrupt, unplanned and drastic reduction in weight of ten pounds or more is often observed in people with hemochromatosis.
The patient feels giddy or dizzy similar to a whirling sensation that everything around him is in a state of motion.
When iron accumulation in the organs continues then the secondary symptoms explained below become apparent.
Women patients having hemochromatosis experience amenorrhea or abnormal absence of periods. Premature menopause may set in wherein the woman becomes menopausal prior to forty years of age.
Hair fall is experienced by patients which is different from regular balding in males. Hair over the body is also lost as iron starts mounting up in the organs.
Male Sexual Problems
Patients are consistently unable to sustain an erection which is adequate for sex or unable to ejaculate or both. Lack of libido or sex drive is also a common complain.
Irregular Liver Function
With iron amassing in the liver it gets enlarged, scar tissue formation rises and widespread scarring are also observed. Hepatitis could additionally develop among such patients.
As the condition progresses, several symptoms are noticeable which include:
Atypical Skin Pigmentation
The skin colour of hemochromatosis patients appears bronze, grey or yellowish because of an increase in the amount of melanin being deposited. This leads to darkening of the skin and patient looks as if he has a tan.
Heartbeats tend to become erratic (irregular) and palpitations could be felt. The heart’s strength gets affected to a considerable extent and heart attack or heart failure can result.
Development of man breasts and hair loss are commonly reported symptoms in males. Infrequently, testicular shrinkage could also occur. Erectile dysfunction (ED) coupled with libido loss additionally occur as the disease worsens.
Hindered thyroid functioning due to iron accruement in thyroid gland leads to reduction in level of thyroxine among hemochromatosis patients.
Interference in insulin being produced as a result of iron accumulating in pancreas leads to diabetes among such patients.
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