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Treatments for Hemochromatosis

Treatments for Hemochromatosis:

Early diagnosis and treatment of hemochromatosis is vital to preventing serious, even life-threatening complications, such as diabetes, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, hypopituitarism and heart failure. Once tissue and organ damage has been done, it may not be possible to reverse it. However, treatment can prevent further damage and improve symptoms.

Treatment of hemochromatosis includes a procedure call therapeutic phlebotomy, also called therapeutic blood removal. Phlebotomy involves the removal of blood from a vein with a needle, similar to a blood donation procedure. This reduces the amount of iron in the blood and body. Therapeutic phlebotomy needs to be repeated to keep iron at a normal level in the body. This requires regular monitoring of blood tests, such as transferrin saturation test and the serum ferritin test to determine the need for therapeutic phlebotomy.

Prompt and consistent treatment can ensure that people with hemochromatosis will lead active normal lives and minimizes the chance of developing serious complications, such as heart failure, liver cirrhosis, liver failure and death.

Treatment List for Hemochromatosis

The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Hemochromatosis includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

  • Phlebotomy (bloodletting) - similar to donating blood
  • Avoid iron supplements
  • Avoid vitamin C - because vitamin C increases iron digestion.
  • Avoid alcohol - to avoid exacerbating liver damage
  • Avoiding high-iron foods - simply eat less iron.
  • Low-iron diets - are not particularly useful
  • Chelation therapy - An alternative medical therapy for lowering blood iron levels.
  • Desferol (Desferoxomine)
  • Treatments for any complications of hemochromatosis
  • Early diagnosis and treatment are important as life expectancy is normal if the condition is treated before complications develop
  • Phlebotomy (bloodletting) - initially 500ml per week until serum iron levels are normal and haemoglobin is <110g/L, then usually every 3-4 months depending on blood test results
  • Normal diet, but avoiding large quantities of iron rich foods such as red meat and organs
  • Avoid iron supplements
  • Vitamin C intake in the diet should not be discouraged, but supplements should be avoided or limited to <500mg/day
  • Avoid raw oysters and improperly cooked shellfish - can contain a bacteria which precipitates sepsis in patients with hemochromatosis
  • Low-iron diets - are not particularly useful
  • Limit or avoid alcohol - to avoid exacerbating liver damage. Patients with no evidence of liver damage should consume alcohol in moderation. Red wine should be limited or avoided as it contains relatively high concentrations of iron
  • Chelation therapy - An alternative medical therapy for lowering blood iron levels in patients who cannot tolerate phlebotomy
  • Treatment for any complications of hemochromatosis such as cirrhosis and arthritis

Hemochromatosis: Is the Diagnosis Correct?

The first step in getting correct treatment is to get a correct diagnosis. Differential diagnosis list for Hemochromatosis may include:

Hidden causes of Hemochromatosis may be incorrectly diagnosed:

Hemochromatosis: Marketplace Products, Discounts & Offers

Products, offers and promotion categories available for Hemochromatosis:

Hemochromatosis: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions.

Drugs and Medications used to treat Hemochromatosis:

Note:You must always seek professional medical advice about any prescription drug, OTC drug, medication, treatment or change in treatment plans.

Some of the different medications used in the treatment of Hemochromatosis include:

  • Deferoxamine - Chronic iron overload
  • Desferal - Chronic iron overload
  • PMS-Deferoxamine - Chronic iron overload

Latest treatments for Hemochromatosis:

The following are some of the latest treatments for Hemochromatosis:

Hospitals & Medical Clinics: Hemochromatosis

Research quality ratings and patient incidents/safety measures for hospitals and medical facilities in specialties related to Hemochromatosis:

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Choosing the Best Treatment Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Hemochromatosis, on hospital and medical facility performance and surgical care quality:

Discussion of treatments for Hemochromatosis:

Treatment is simple, inexpensive, and safe. The first step is to rid the body of excess iron. The process is called phlebotomy, which means removing blood. Depending on how severe the iron overload is, a pint of blood will be taken once or twice a week for several months to a year, and occasionally longer. Blood ferritin levels will be tested after every 4 phlebotomies to monitor iron levels. The goal is to bring blood ferritin levels to the low end of normal and keep them there. Depending on the lab, that means less than 9 to 50 micrograms of blood ferritin per liter. Depending on the amount of overload at diagnosis, reaching normal levels can take up to 100 phlebotomies.

Once iron levels return to normal, maintenance therapy, which involves giving a pint of blood every 1 to 4 months for life, begins. Some people may need it more often. An annual blood ferritin test will help determine how often blood should be removed.

The earlier hemochromatosis is diagnosed and treated, the better. If treatment begins before any organs are damaged, associated conditions--such as liver disease, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes--can be prevented. The outlook for people who already have these conditions at diagnosis depends on the degree of organ damage. For example, treating hemochromatosis can stop the progression of liver disease in its early stages, which means a normal life expectancy. However, if cirrhosis has developed, the person's risk of developing liver cancer is high, even if iron stores are reduced to normal levels.

People who have complications of hemochromatosis may want to consider getting treatment from a specialized hemochromatosis center. These centers are located throughout the country. Information is available from the organizations listed under For More Information .

People with hemochromatosis should not take iron supplements. Those who have liver damage should not drink alcoholic beverages because they further damage the liver.

Although treatment cannot cure the conditions associated with hemochromatosis, it will help most of them. The main exception is arthritis, which does not improve even after excess iron is removed. (Source: excerpt from Hemochromatosis: NIDDK)

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