Treatment Options for Hemochromatosis | Bansal Hospital

Treatment Options for Hemochromatosis: Phlebotomy, Medications, and Lifestyle Changes

Treatment Options for Hemochromatosis Phlebotomy, Medications, & Lifestyle Changes

Managing hemochromatosis involves a combination of treatment approaches. Phlebotomy, medications, and lifestyle changes are the mainstay strategies aimed at reducing excess iron levels, alleviating symptoms, and preventing complications. By implementing these treatment options, individuals with hemochromatosis can regain control over their iron levels and improve their overall well-being.

Join us as we explore the arsenal of treatments that combat this iron overload disorder, empowering individuals to take charge of their well-being and break free from the chains that hemochromatosis seeks to impose. Let us dive in and unlock the secrets to managing hemochromatosis together!

Table of Content 

  1. Hemochromatosis- An Overview
  2. Treatment Relating To Hemochromatosis
  3. Medication Required for Hemochromatosis  
  4. Iron Removal Therapy 
  5. Iron-Rich Food Avoidance 
  6. Therapeutic Phlebotomy 
  7. Top Liver Transplant Hospitals 
  8. Expert Advice 
  9. The Final say 
  10. FAQ

Hemochromatosis – An Overview

A hereditary condition called hemochromatosis is characterised by excessive bodily iron absorption and build-up. Among those of European origin, it is one of the most prevalent genetic illnesses. The illness interferes with the body’s usual ability to regulate iron levels, causing an accumulation of iron in a number of organs, especially the pancreas, liver, and heart.

Iron is a crucial mineral needed for a number of physiological processes, including the creation of red blood cells. However, those who have hemochromatosis consume an excessive amount of iron, and their bodies are unable to control how it is stored and distributed. Over time, extra iron is accumulated in tissues and organs, causing harm and dysfunction.

Through blood tests that gauge ferritin, transferrin saturation, and serum iron levels, hemochromatosis is identified. To find certain mutations linked to the condition, genetic testing can also be done. For the ailment to be adequately managed and complications to occur, early diagnosis is essential.

Phlebotomy, often known as bloodletting, is a routine procedure used to regularly remove extra iron from the body as part of hemochromatosis treatment. Until iron levels are back to normal, this process, comparable to blood donation, is typically repeated every few weeks. Phlebotomy may not be an option or be sufficient in some situations, so doctors may give iron-chelating drugs to help remove more iron.

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Treatment Relating to Hemochromatosis

The elimination of extra iron from the body serves as the main treatment for hemochromatosis. Typically, phlebotomy, or therapeutic bloodletting, is used to accomplish this. Phlebotomy is the practice of taking a certain amount of blood from a patient’s vein, much to blood donation. The quantity and frequency of blood draws will depend on the patient’s iron status and response to therapy.

Phlebotomy aims to progressively lower the body’s iron reserves to normal levels. Phlebotomy sessions may initially be frequent at first, up to once or twice a week. The frequency may be decreased to a maintenance plan, usually every few months, once iron levels have stabilised.

Iron-chelating drugs may be used in situations where phlebotomy is not feasible or is not well-tolerated. By attaching to extra iron and enabling its excretion from the body, these drugs aid in the removal of excess iron. When phlebotomy alone is insufficient, or the patient cannot endure routine bloodletting, iron-chelating medications are frequently utilised. It is vital to remember that iron-chelating drugs may need to be used for a long time and are not as effective as phlebotomy.

Hemochromatosis patients can benefit from several healthy lifestyle changes in addition to medical treatments:

Dietary Changes

Cutting back on the consumption of foods high in iron, such as red meat, organ meats, and meals enriched with iron, can assist in lower iron absorption. Vitamin C pills and foods should also be avoided because they promote the absorption of iron.

Avoiding Iron Supplements

Iron supplements should be avoided by people with hemochromatosis unless specifically advised to do so by a healthcare provider. This includes iron-rich multivitamins.

Regular Monitoring 

Regular monitoring is crucial for controlling hemochromatosis and involves routine blood tests to measure iron levels, liver function, and general health. This enables medical professionals to modify treatment strategies and keep an eye out for potential consequences.

Medication Required For Hemochromatosis

Medication is typically used to treat hemochromatosis when phlebotomy (therapeutic bloodletting) is not an option or when it is not effective enough to lower iron levels. Iron chelators, which are chemicals that bind to iron and aid in its elimination from the body, are the principal treatment utilised in such circumstances. Here are some examples of iron chelators that are frequently used to treat hemochromatosis:

1. Deferoxamine (Desferal)

People who are unable to undergo phlebotomy or who have considerable iron overload often utilise this drug, which is administered through injection or infusion. A compound that is formed when deferoxamine binds to iron and is eliminated in urine. 

It is often given over a long period of time and frequently requires continuous infusion using a pump. Treatment with deferoxamine takes time and may have side effects such as injection site responses and visual and hearing problems.

2. Deferasirox (Exjade)

Available as a tablet or solution, Deferasirox is an oral iron chelator. It is frequently combined with phlebotomy or used as an alternative to deferoxamine. Additionally, deferasirox binds to iron and facilitates its excretion through faeces. When using deferasirox, it is important to regularly check liver enzymes and kidney function because the drug may have negative effects on these organs.

Another oral iron chelator called Deferiprone (Ferriprox) is available for usage when other chelators are ineffective or poorly tolerated. In order to function, it binds to iron and forms a complex that is eliminated through urination. Given that deferiprone can lower white blood cell and platelet counts, blood counts must be closely monitored. Due to a rare side effect of vision problems, routine eye exams are also advised.

The selection of an iron chelator depends on a number of variables, including the patient’s unique circumstances, tolerability, and therapeutic response. Depending on the patient’s demands, treatment methods may combine phlebotomy and iron chelation therapy.

It is important to note that treatment for hemochromatosis is often only given to patients who have severe iron excess or who are unable to undergo phlebotomy. However, since phlebotomy is so successful in removing extra iron and restoring normal iron levels, it continues to be the cornerstone treatment for the majority of hemochromatosis sufferers.

Iron Removal Therapy 

Hemochromatosis, a disorder marked by excessive iron accumulation in the body, is managed in part using iron removal therapy, sometimes referred to as iron reduction therapy or iron depletion therapy. Iron removal therapy’s main objectives are to bring iron levels back into normal ranges and stop the spread of issues linked to iron overload.

Phlebotomy, which entails drawing blood from the patient’s body, is the primary technique used in iron removal therapy. A medical expert will normally take 500 millilitres of blood during a phlebotomy procedure from an arm vein. Similar to blood donation, this technique. The quantity and length of phlebotomy treatments are determined by the patient’s iron status and response to therapy.

Phlebotomy treatments may be more frequent in the early stages of iron removal therapy, such as once or twice per week, to quickly reduce iron storage. Phlebotomy treatments are normally less frequent as iron levels get closer to normal ranges. Then, depending on the patient’s needs, maintenance phlebotomy is carried out at regular intervals that might last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Phlebotomy sessions can remove different amounts of iron, but typically 200 to 250 milligrams are removed. Over time, the body’s iron reserves are gradually depleted, which lowers iron overload. This regular evacuation of blood containing too much iron. Iron from dietary sources and eliminated blood cells will be naturally replaced by the body.

An efficient and secure way of iron elimination therapy is phlebotomy. In general, it is well accepted, and there are very few dangers involved. During or after the phlebotomy session, some people may have brief side effects, such as light-headedness or dizziness. Rest and enough fluids are frequently advised to lessen these effects.

The most prevalent kind of condition, hereditary hemochromatosis, is treated primarily with iron removal therapy. Iron chelation therapy using pharmaceuticals may be considered an alternative to phlebotomy in some circumstances when it is neither feasible nor well-tolerated.

During iron removal therapy, it is crucial to regularly monitor iron levels and general health. Blood tests are performed to assess iron markers, such as serum iron, transferrin saturation, and ferritin levels, to guide the frequency and duration of phlebotomy sessions. Additionally, monitoring liver function, kidney function, and other pertinent parameters helps assure the safety and effectiveness of iron removal therapy.

Avoidance Of Iron – Rich Food 

For persons with hemochromatosis or iron overload, it is generally recommended to avoid or limit the consumption of iron-rich foods to assist in regulating iron levels. Examples of foods high in iron that are normally advised to be avoided or consumed in moderation are listed below:

1. Red Meat 

Red meats are rich in iron, including beef, lamb, and pork. To lower iron intake, it is advised to consume these meats in moderation or to choose lean cuts.

2. Organ Meats

Because they are particularly high in iron, organ meats like liver, kidney, and heart should be avoided or eaten in moderation.

3. Avoid Food High In Iron

Clams, mussels, and oysters are some shellfish that should be avoided since they are high in iron.

4. Foods Fortified With Iron

Many processed foods, including bread, pasta, and morning cereals, are iron-fortified. It’s crucial to read food labels and select low-iron or unfortified substitutes.

5. Legumes And Beans

Although they are filling, legumes and beans can also be major providers of dietary iron. Consuming these foods in moderation is advised.

6. Leafy Greens And Spinach

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are frequently high in iron. However, iron in plant-based diets is not as readily absorbed as iron in goods derived from animals. These foods can still be a part of a healthy diet, but it’s best to keep an eye on your iron levels and reduce intake as needed.

7. Foods high in vitamin C

Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron. Consequently, it is advised against taking a lot of vitamin C-rich meals, like citrus fruits and juices, coupled with foods high in iron.

It’s crucial to remember that managing hemochromatosis typically requires more than dietary iron reduction. The main technique to efficiently lower iron levels is phlebotomy (therapeutic bloodletting) or iron chelation therapy, as advised by a medical specialist.

Therapeutic Phlebotomy 

A medical treatment called therapeutic bloodletting, commonly referred to as therapeutic phlebotomy, is performed to eliminate extra iron or red blood cells from the body. Hemochromatosis, polycythemia vera, and a few other blood disorders characterised by iron excess or high red blood cell counts are among the ailments for which it is a common therapeutic strategy.

Similar to a blood donation, a healthcare expert will take a particular amount of blood from an arm vein during a therapeutic phlebotomy operation. The individual’s condition and the targeted therapeutic objectives determine the volume of blood drawn and the frequency of the operation.

Therapeutic phlebotomy is used to lower the body’s high iron levels in people with hemochromatosis. Phlebotomy treatments may be frequent in the early phases of treatment, often as frequently as once or twice per week, to quickly deplete iron stores. The frequency is normally reduced as iron levels go closer to normal ranges, and maintenance phlebotomy sessions are scheduled at regular intervals, which can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

The body usually replaces the blood that is extracted during therapeutic phlebotomy, and the iron removed encourages the formation of fresh red blood cells. This organic replacement process aids in balancing iron levels and reducing iron excess.

Phlebotomy, for therapeutic purposes, is often a risk-free technique. During or after the treatment, some people may have brief side effects such as light-headedness, dizziness, or weariness. It is frequently advised to get enough rest and drink enough water to counteract these effects. To determine the frequency and efficacy of therapeutic phlebotomy, it is necessary to regularly evaluate iron levels and other pertinent blood parameters.

Top Liver Transplant Hospital 

One of the greatest hospitals for liver transplants is Bansal Hospital in Bhopal. Because it is crucial to take into account a number of things when searching for a liver transplant or selecting a hospital for one

Finding a hospital with a focused liver transplant program, skilled transplant surgeons, hepatologists, and a multidisciplinary team with expertise in liver transplantation is important. Examine the hospital’s history of performing liver transplants, taking into account patient outcomes and success rates.

Facilities and infrastructure for transplants

Verify if the hospital has cutting-edge infrastructure, sophisticated surgical tools, and an intensive care unit (ICU) specifically created for transplant patients. Additionally, the hospital should be equipped with a thorough support network that includes imaging centres, blood banks, and a well-organized post-transplant care schedule.

Consider the hospital’s access to donor organs when determining the availability of organs and waiting times. Analyse the liver transplant waiting list at the hospital and the typical wait times.

Research the hospital’s overall level of medical care quality, patient satisfaction scores, and post-transplant follow-up services. The experience of receiving a transplant can be greatly improved by a solid support system that consists of committed transplant coordinators, counselling services, and support groups.

Determine whether the hospital takes your health insurance and offers clear information about the costs associated with a liver transplant before making any financial decisions. The hospital’s ability to manage insurance-related paperwork and provide assistance with financial matters should also be taken into account.

An unhealthy liver from a deceased person or a piece of a healthy liver from a living person is used to replace a non-functioning liver in a liver transplant. When the liver is severely damaged due to cancer or cirrhosis, a liver transplant is required.

For ten years, Bansal Hospital has been operating effectively and proactively. To save lives and improve people’s quality of life, a great deal of effort has been put forth.

The 300-bed multi-speciality Bansal Hospital works to give patients effective therapy for their identified issues. It has 39 reputable medical divisions run by eminent physicians and helpful nurses.

For routine health examinations and other emergency services, contact us at +91-0755-4086000 and +91-0755-4086099. Bansal Hospital has come a long way, from providing space for countless technical advancements to ensuring and constructing safety nets for life.

Expert Advice

Dietary changes to keep up a good and balanced diet and regulate iron levels. Here are some general tips an expert might give to people who have hemochromatosis:

Limiting the consumption of foods high in iron, like red meat, organ meats, shellfish, and is essential. A well-balanced diet should emphasise a range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid taking excessive amounts of vitamin C-rich foods or supplements with meals high in iron. 

Drinking tea or coffee before a meal can prevent the absorption of iron. Calcium can prevent the absorption of iron. It is best to avoid eating calcium-rich foods during meals or close to foods that are high in iron. Some procedures for cooking, including utilising cast iron cookware or cooking food for a long time in iron pots, can raise the amount of iron in the food.

The Final Say 

Limiting iron-rich foods such as red meat, organ meats, and shellfish while prioritising a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats are some recommendations that may be made. Iron absorption can be controlled by being cautious with vitamin C consumption and avoiding calcium-rich foods during meals. It is essential to regularly assess iron levels and receive customised dietary guidance.


  1. What causes hemochromatosis?

A defective gene that results in hemochromatosis can be transferred from parents to their offspring. The majority of instances are caused by a defect in the HFE gene, which has an impact on how well you can absorb iron from your diet. Your body typically keeps the level of iron constant.

  1. How is hemochromatosis diagnosed?

Blood tests are typically requested by doctors to look for gene alterations linked to hemochromatosis. The diagnosis of primary hemochromatosis is confirmed by the discovery of two copies of the HFE link gene carrying the C282Y mutation. Blood tests are typically requested by doctors to look for the gene abnormalities that lead to hemochromatosis.

  1. Is hemochromatosis curable?

Hemochromatosis does not yet have a cure, although there are medications that can lower the iron levels in your body. This can lessen some of the symptoms and lower the chance that damaged organs like the heart, liver, and pancreas will develop.

  1. How can I naturally get rid of iron from my blood?

Phytic acid, also known as phytate, is present in all grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts and decreases the absorption of iron. Consuming whole grains, nuts, and other meals high in phytates inhibits the absorption of nonheme iron from plant sources. As a result, it can lower the body’s overall iron levels.

About Bansal Hospital

Bansal Hospital is a multispeciality hospital and is one of the leading, reputable and reliable healthcare providers trusted by patients and their families across the region. It has all the major departments, including cardiology, neurology, oncology, orthopaedics, gastroenterology, urology, liver transplant, bone marrow transplantation, nephrology, gynaecology and more. 

The hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and technology and has a team of highly qualified and experienced doctors and medical staff who provide round-the-clock care to the patient.

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