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    Haematinics as Nutritional Supplements

Iron Overload

Disorders: Hemochromatosis

Hemochromatosis (HHC) is a genetic disorder of metabolism. Individuals with hemochromatosis absorb too much iron. Iron cannot be excreted therefore the excess builds to toxic levels in tissues of major organs such as the liver, heart, pituitary, thyroid, pancreas, lungs, and synovium (joints). These overburdened organs cease to function properly and eventually become diseased. Therefore, undiagnosed and untreated HHC can develop into diseases such as diabetes, heart trouble, arthritis, liver disease, neurological problems, depression, impotence,infertility, and cancer.

Iron build up in those with classical (HFE related) hereditary hemochromatosis is slow, usually taking years to build to destructive levels. HHC/Iron overload generally manifests in a male's early thirties and is diagnosed in a male's mid to late fifties. For this reason HHC has acquired the mistaken identity of an older male's disease. HHC can be present in females, adolescents and possibly children.

Disorders: Acquired Iron Overload

Acquired iron overload occurs when one obtains excessive amounts of iron from repeated exposure through supplementation, diet, iron shots, blood transfusion. When iron overload is acquired by oral or injected means, the consequences affect the entire body. However, having prolonged exposure to iron in tobacco directly or indirectly (second hand tobacco smoke) or iron-containing asbestos products can result in iron loaded lung cells. These patients are at increased risk for lung diseases including cancer. One can accumulate dangerously high levels of iron by accidental ingestion which usual occurs with young children who get iron pills prescribed for their mothers; these children can get very sick and can even die from iron poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that accidental iron poisoning is one of the leading causes of poisoning in children.Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is a condition where one has inadequate amounts of iron to meet body demands such as during periods of rapid growth and pregnancy. IDA is usually due to a diet insufficient in iron or from blood loss. Blood loss can be acute as in hemorrhage or trauma or long term as in heavy menstruation. Most at risk are young children whose growth demands are great, the elderly whose diets are many times lacking and women who are pregnant or of childbearing age.

Fatigue is the most common complaint, along with malaise (vague feeling of physical discomfort or uneasiness) sensitivity to cold, shortness of breath, dizziness and restless legs syndrome (uncomfortable feeling in legs, sensations of pulling, tingling, crawling, accompanied by a need to move the legs).Hemoglobin and serum ferritin are the most common ways to test for anemia. A new test called serum transferring receptor is a good way to determine iron deficiency anemia because this test is not affected by inflammation.

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