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Are you pumping too much iron? Haemochromatosis

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Updated 2 May 2020

Haemochromatosis, or inherited iron overload disorder, is the most common genetic disorder in Australia. It causes the body to absorb excess iron which builds up in the organs and joints over many years and eventually becomes toxic.

Early symptoms include joint pains, fatigue, weakness and sexual dysfunction.

If untreated it can lead to more serious and potentially fatal symptoms including diabetes, liver cancer and cirrhosis, heart failure and osteoarthritis.  

Despite being so common (one in 200 have the genetic pre-disposition and one in eight are carriers of one gene) it is not well known and is under-diagnosed. Often only the individual symptoms are treated and the underlying cause is not recognised.

Tests for the condition are simple and cheap. 

If people are diagnosed early and treated then haemochromatosis is no barrier to a normal healthy life.

Treatment is simple, drug free and uncontroversial. Regular venesection, like giving blood at a blood bank, unloads iron. Often this can be done at the Red Cross Blood Service and the blood is useful.

If you know someone in your family has haemochromatosis, or you have been feeling tired and aching for an extended period, talk to your GP about haemochromatosis.

World Haemochromatosis Week 2020

World Haemochromatosis Week will be observed from 1 – 7 June 2020. Haemochromatosis Australia will join with other members of Haemochromatosis International, the international alliance of haemochromatosis support groups, to support a worldwide awareness campaign. The week is a time to focus on raising awareness of haemochromatosis and improving the rate of early diagnosis to prevent much ill-health.

The key messages of the week are:

  • Haemochromatosis is the most common genetic disorder in Australia
  • If you are the 1 in 200 affected, it can cause serious health problems
  • Ask your doctor, find out if you are storing too much iron

Haemochromatosis Australia

Haemochromatosis Australia is the support, health promotion and advocacy group for people with haemochromatosis and their families.  The group has operated continuously for 22 years.

We are a not for profit group run entirely by volunteers.  We have been endorsed as a deductible gift recipient by the ATO and are registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission..

We operate an INFO LINE 1300 019 028 and informative website www.ha.org.au . We print educational publications, quarterly newsletter and organise local support group and information sessions (when not in lockdown restrictions) We have produced a series of  videos explaining haemochromatosis and its impacts on people in simple terms. The videos can be viewed on our YouTube channel www.youtube.com/HaemochromatosisAust .

Our medical advisors include some of the leading academics and clinicians in the field of haemochromatosis.  See our website About Us page for more information.

More Information

Haemochromatosis Australia website www.ha.org.au

World Haemochromatosis Week  www.ha.org.au/whw

Contact:

INFO LINE 1300 019 028

National Enquiries:         Dianne Prince (President) 0418 494 113 dianne.prince@ha.org.au              

Tony Moorhead   0435 375 450  tony.moorhead@ha.org.au