Iron Overload

Iron Overload: What You Need to Know

Iron overload is a condition where iron in the body is present in excess amounts, which can disrupt normal bodily functions. Iron can be found in foods such as red meat and fortified cereals, and it is also sometimes consumed in multi-vitamin or other dietary supplements. Iron is necessary for a healthy body; however, when too much iron is present, it can cause serious health problems.

Iron overload can happen as a result of a genetic disorder, such as hemochromatosis, or it can be acquired due to other conditions, such as high levels of dietary iron or frequent blood transfusions. Untreated, iron overload can cause damage to the heart, liver, pancreas, joints, and other organs.

Signs and Symptoms of Iron Overload

Some common signs and symptoms of iron overload include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased libido or infertility
  • Abdominal pain
  • Darkening of skin color
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis

Diagnosis and Treatment of Iron Overload

If you suspect that you have iron overload, it is important to seek medical attention for diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor may order tests such as blood tests, liver function tests, and imaging tests to help determine the cause of your iron overload and the extent of your condition. Treatment of iron overload usually consists of avoiding additional sources of iron and undergoing therapeutic phlebotomy, where excess blood is removed in order to reduce iron levels.

Your doctor may also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to help reduce iron levels and improve your health. These changes may include avoiding foods that are high in iron, limiting alcohol intake, and engaging in regular exercise. It is important to work with your doctor closely to make sure that your treatment is effective and tailored to your individual needs.