What Is Iron Overload Syndrome?

    Iron overload is an excess (too much) iron in the body. Excess iron in vital organs, even in mild cases of iron overload, increases the risk for liver disease (cirrhosis, cancer), heart attack or heart failure, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, numerous symptoms and in some cases premature death.

    Here are the facts you need to know about this potentially-dangerous condition:

    What is it?

    Iron overload is characterized by an elevated serum ferritin with a normal transferrin-iron saturation percentage. People with iron overload syndrome will likely also have an elevated GGT (liver enzyme) possibly due to a fatty liver. Individuals with DIOS are helped by phlebotomy, diet and exercise. The FeGGT test is helpful in determining the iron status and GGT status.

    Iron mismanagement resulting in overload can accelerate such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s, early-onset Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

    How do you get it?

    Iron overload can be inherited (genetic) or acquired by receiving numerous blood transfusions, getting iron shots or injections, or consuming high levels of supplemental iron. Some of the genetic disorders that result in iron overload include are hereditary hemochromatosis (all types), African iron overload, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, X-linked sideroblastic anemia, enzyme deficiencies (pyruvate kinase; glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) and very rare protein transport disorders aceruloplasminemia and atransferrinemia.

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