Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Living with Hemochromatosis

Friday, 11 Feb 2011 04:15 PM

Question: What causes hemochromatosis? Can it be treated with anything else besides phlebotomy?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Primary hemochromatosis is a common inherited condition that results in abnormal accumulation of iron in our bodies. The body absorbs and stores too much iron. Secondary hemochromatosis is caused by alcoholism, anemia, and other disorders.

Hemochromatosis is confirmed by blood testing. Phlebotomy is the primary treatment for it because we have no natural way of ridding ourselves of absorbed dietary iron. With phlebotomy, blood is drawn just as it is with a blood bank donation.

Dietary modification is very important to reduce iron over-absorption. People with hemochromatosis should not take vitamin C or iron supplements. There is no cure.

Strokes, slow-flow states, and premature organ failure often result from uncontrolled hemochromatosis. Congestive heart failure, neuropathy, and premature death also can result.

For excellent articles on this topic by the National Institutes of Health, go here.

Do not ignore this treatable condition. Be sure to consult a hematologist if you have hemochromatosis.


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