What Are the Side Effects of Iron Overload?


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Iron overload causes symptoms and diseases such as liver disease, stomach pain, joint pain and severe fatigue, according to Iron Disorders Institute. It can also lead to skin discoloration, heart attack, irregular heart rhythm or diabetes mellitus.

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Iron overload refers to excessive iron in the body, which raises the risk of various health problems, such as hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, explains Iron Disorders Institute. It can also lead to premature death or speed the development of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Other symptoms resulting from the condition include infertility, impotence, enlarged liver or hair loss.

Some people inherit iron overload, while others acquire it through consumption of too much iron supplements or numerous iron shots or blood transfusions, notes Iron Disorders Institute. Sickle cell disease, African iron overload and all types of hereditary hemochromatosis are genetic disorders that cause iron overload.

Depending on a patient's hemoglobin level, doctors may recommend iron reduction therapy to treat iron overload, states Iron Disorders Institute. Patients with adequate hemoglobin levels usually undergo therapeutic phlebotomies, or blood removal. Doctors may also suggest regular donation of blood to reduce the body's iron levels. Patients with insufficient hemoglobin levels for blood removal often require iron chelation therapy, which involves removing iron using certain medications.

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