I have primary hemochromatosis.
So, dennis, now that we know what you have, what does it do?
Hemochromatosis causes the body to absorb and store too much iron. Iron is an essential nutrient found in many foods. The greatest amount is found in red meat and iron-fortified breads and cereals. Healthy people usually absorb about 10 percent of the iron contained in the food they eat, which meets normal dietary requirements. People with hemochromatosis absorb up to 30 percent of iron. Over time, they absorb and retain between five to 20 times more iron than the body needs. Because the body has no natural way to rid itself of the excess iron, without treatment, the disease can cause the liver, heart, and pancreas to fail because iron is stored in body tissues, specifically the liver, heart, and pancreas.
Because this disease takes so long to kill someone (and left untreated you could live 30-50 years. Lucky fella!!) the list of symptoms includes a grab-bag of everything:
- Joint Pain
- Fatigue---------check! This is my major complaint. I have been known to fall asleep when put on hold while using the telephone. At one time I found it difficult to walk 5-10 minutes at a time in the middle of the day and still stay awake. I know it is time for treatment when my energy levels start to drop. Much like the past 2-3 days.
- lack of energy ---check! See fatigue
- abdominal pain
- loss of sex drive --- I would like to state here and now that I am as horny as I was at age 18!!
- heart problems
- memory loss/lack of focus --- check! I have sometimes finished a phone conversation with family members and called them back (minutes/hours) later to 'initiate' this very same conversation.
Complications that can arise if left untreated:
- liver disease, including an enlarged liver, cirrhosis, cancer, and liver failure
- damage to the pancreas, possibly causing diabetes
- heart abnormalities, such as irregular heart rhythms or congestive heart failure
- early menopause
- abnormal pigmentation of the skin, making it look gray or bronze
- thyroid deficiency
- damage to the adrenal glands
There are two MAJOR blessings that come with this disease
1) It practically takes a lifetime to kill you
2) Treatments. Treatments are easy, once diagnosed. Regular phlebotomies (sp?) will reduce iron in the body and improve chances for a healthier, happier, longer life.
So how does one contract this disease? Happily it is not contagious. Nope, you can swap spit and various other bodily fluids with anyone suffering from this disease and fear nothing.
This disease is genetic. And it is everywhere:
Hereditary hemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States. It most often affects Caucasians of Northern European descent, although other ethnic groups are also affected. About five people out of 1,000—0.5 percent—of the U.S. Caucasian population carry two copies of the hemochromatosis gene and are susceptible to developing the disease. One out of every 8 to 12 people is a carrier of one abnormal gene.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Hemochromatosis is the most common form of iron overload disease. Primary hemochromatosis, also called hereditary hemochromatosis
I have primary hemochromatosis.