Hemochromatosis is the buildup of iron in your body. Secondary hemochromatosis is when iron builds up in your tissue due to an underlying medical condition and not due to your genetics.
People with hemochromatosis store too much iron in tissues such as their:
- pituitary gland
The buildup of iron in these tissues can cause complications such as liver damage and heart problems. Receiving an early diagnosis and treating hemochromatosis properly can help you avoid these complications.
Read on to learn more about secondary hemochromatosis including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
Secondary hemochromatosis is the buildup of iron in your tissue due to an underlying medical condition. It’s
The buildup of iron in your body can cause damage to organs such as your liver or pancreas if it’s left untreated.
What’s the difference between primary and secondary hemochromatosis?
Primary hemochromatosis, or hereditary hemochromatosis, is a genetic condition passed through families that causes the buildup of iron. It’s most often caused by a mutation in the
Secondary hemochromatosis isn’t a genetic condition, but it can be caused by blood transfusions used to treat genetic conditions such as thalassemia.
The buildup of iron in your tissues can lead to organ damage and symptoms that affect many different parts of your body. Symptoms of hemochromatosis can include:
- unintentional weight loss
- joint pain
- bronze or gray skin color
- loss of sex drive
- abdominal pain
Primary vs. secondary hemochromatosis deposit locations
Primary hemochromatosis primarily causes iron deposition in the
- liver cells
- bone marrow
- lymph nodes
The most common cause of secondary hemochromatosis is chronic blood transfusions. Doctors often use blood transfusions to treat
- sickle cell anemia
- hereditary spherocytosis
- X-linked sideroblastic anemia
- pyruvate kinase deficiency
Other potential causes of secondary hemochromatosis are:
increased iron absorptionby your intestines due to the ineffective production of red blood cells
- iron poisoning from iron supplements or other sources of iron
- underlying conditions such as:
Secondary hemochromatosis is
Doctors can diagnose hemochromatosis by performing a blood test to look at your levels of:
- liver enzymes
- blood cell counts
- ferritin, a protein that stores iron in the blood
- transferrin, a protein that moves iron in the blood
Additionally, your doctor may want to order a genetic test to rule out primary hemochromatosis.
You may receive other tests to check for organ damage. These tests might include:
Treatment also involves managing the underlying cause of secondary hemochromatosis. For example, reducing your daily intake of an iron supplement.
The main treatment for primary hemochromatosis is phlebectomy, which is the medical term for removing blood.
Secondary hemochromatosis often has a good outlook if it’s diagnosed and treated promptly. If it’s left undiagnosed, it can lead to permanent damage to your organs.
HCC is rarer in people with secondary hemochromatosis. A
Other potential complications include:
Secondary hemochromatosis is the buildup of iron levels in your body due to an underlying medical condition. The most common cause is repeated blood transfusions. Doctors typically use blood transfusions to treat conditions that cause low red blood cell counts.
The most common treatment for secondary hemochromatosis is taking medications to remove iron from your body. Receiving a prompt diagnosis and treatment can help you avoid serious complications of the disease.