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How is haemochromatosis treated?

Q: My brother has very high ferritin levels (3000+). I am very worried because the doctors don't seem to be doing anything. He has fainted twice and is constantly ill. They say that he has hereditary haemochromatosis, but I have never seen fainting as a symptom. He consumes a lot of hard alcohol daily, and I really think that this is a huge contributor to his illness. I know that in the later stages of this condition diabetes can occur. My question is how do I help him and what is the treatment for this?

A:Haemochromatosis is a genetic disorder characterised by abnormal accumulation of iron in different organs of the body leading to liver cirrhosis, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, impotence, and arthritis. Blood levels of ferritin higher than 300 mcg per litre in males or post-menopausal women indicate primary iron overload due to haemochromatosis, especially when associated with high transferrin saturation and evidence of liver disease. Levels greater than 1000 mcg per litre suggest liver damage with fibrosis or cirrhosis. The aim of treatment is to remove the iron before it can produce irreversible organ damage. Alcohol consumption should be limited as it increases iron absorption while drinks like red wine are rich in iron content. Alcohol intake adds to the liver injury and increases the risk of liver cancer in persons with cirrhosis.


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