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By Dr. Eithne Brenner - The Brenner Clinic

Haemochromatosis M

edical terminology can be complicated! So, what is haemochromatosis? It is a genetic condition

especially common in Ireland, where there is a fault in the delicate balance of iron processing in the body, leading to “iron overload”. If undetected and untreated, it can lead to organ damage, and can be fatal. The good news

is that if it can be picked up early before any organ damage occurs, the person will have a normal life expectancy. It is the most common genetic disorder in Ireland, with one in five of us carrying the gene (but unaffected and well), and one in 83 of us predisposed to the condition. The clinical

diagnosis of haemochromatosis can be delayed, as the onset of symptoms may be very gradual, and because there is still an unfounded belief among medical staff and the general public that haemochromatosis is a rare condition. The first case of iron overload was

described in 1865. The condition was only recognised in its later stages, when the patient had bronze skin (from deposition of iron). It was called haemochromatosis in 1889, where haemo refers to blood, chromat is colour, and osis is a condition.

What are the symptoms of

haemochromatosis? Iron build up can take many years. Men will usually show symptoms earlier than women, as women lose blood through menstruation and child-birth. The most common symptoms are

tiredness, lethargy, joint pains, and generalised aches. There may be

is raised, a genetic blood test is then done. Close relatives of someone with haemachromatosis should discuss testing for the condition with their GP.

What is the treatment for

haemochromatosis? Treatment is most effective when begun early as it can successfully prevent or stop organ damage. If damage has already occurred, treatment should halt further damage. The only

method of removing iron from the body is by removal of blood- this is by giving a blood donation (called venesection or phlebotomy). This is done regularly to reduce the iron levels back to normal, and is a lifelong process. Once the levels stabilise, the usual maintenance is four venesections per year. The majority of patients have this treatment at their GP surgery.

abdominal pain, enlarged liver, diabetes, irregular heartbeat, loss of sex drive, or hormone changes. These symptoms are caused by excess iron in the organs.

How is the diagnosis made? The condition may be suspected by the symptoms, and a simple blood test will show the level of iron in the body. If this

If you are experiencing ongoing tiredness, aches and pains or any of the

above symptoms......have a chat with your practice nurse or GP.

The Irish Haemochromatosis

Association provides excellent information at

What We Can Do For You: • Find the underlying “root cause” of your ill-health concern.

• Suitable for children and adults. • Treat your ill-health concern with a non-drug, natural approach. • Recommend dietary and lifestyle adjustments and a possible supplement inclusion. • Improve your health, naturally!

John Falconer BSc Nutritional Medicine Tel: 051-330500/087-2436994 -


Treatable conditions Acne, ADHD, autism, constipation, diabetes [type 2], obesity, fatigue, dyspraxia, dyslexia, eczema, psoriasis, IBS, food allergies, gluten sensitivity, digestive problems, hormonal imbalances and more.

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