What causes high iron levels in blood?


Quick Answer

Iron poisoning, hemolytic anemia and hemochromatosis are the causes of a high iron level in the blood, notes the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. A doctor usually orders an iron test when a patient has symptoms such as lack of energy, fatigue, joint pain and weakness.

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Full Answer

Although the human body needs iron to survive, too much iron interferes with some metabolic processes, explains the Merck Manual Professional Edition. One of the effects of iron poisoning is metabolic acidosis, a disturbance in the acid-base balance of the body. Symptoms of iron poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and lethargy. Severe iron poisoning can also cause low blood pressure, increased heart rate and increased respiratory rate.

Hemolytic anemia results in the premature destruction of red blood cells, states the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. When the red blood cells disintegrate, they leak molecules containing iron into the bloodstream. This results in an elevated iron level. Symptoms of hemolytic anemia include abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin and leg ulcers.

Hemochromatosis results in the absorption of too much iron by the digestive tract, explains Mayo Clinic. In most cases, hemochromatosis occurs due to faulty genes. Signs and symptoms of the condition include joint pain, weakness and fatigue. Once organ damage occurs due to the presence of excess iron, hemochromatosis can lead to diabetes, impotence, reduced sex drive or heart failure.

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