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High iron: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Having high iron is a medical condition called hemochromatosis , where the body does not metabolize this mineral correctly, causing it to accumulate, especially in the liver. This condition has a higher incidence in men than in women, since they lose iron through menstruation, so it does not accumulate.This mineral is essential for health, but its high values ​​can have serious consequences for health . In FastlyHealwe will answer why I have high iron .

Normal iron values

Iron is a vital mineral for the body since it helps in the production of hemoglobin and in the formation of muscle proteins, so it is important to maintain adequate levels. The normal values ​​of iron in our blood should be the following:

  • Men: 12-300 ng/mL
  • Women: 12- 150 ng/mL

Causes of high iron

There are two causes to explain why I have high iron :

  • Primary hemochromatosis : in this case it is hereditary, it is a disorder that is transmitted from parents to children, in which the digestive tract absorbs a lot of iron, allowing it to accumulate in the liver.
  • Acquired hemochromatosis : it is mainly related to conditions such as thalassemia and some anemias. It is also common in people who have had many blood transfusions or who have had alcohol problems.

Symptoms of high iron

For iron to cause tissue damage, it must have a concentration greater than 20 grams and although it generally accumulates in the liver, the symptoms will depend on the organ in which the deposit of this mineral occurs. Between them we have:

  • Increased bilirubin .
  • Enlargement of the liver.
  • Darkening of the skin.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of sexual desire.
  • Heart rhythm disturbances.
  • Joint pain
  • Diabetes.

Diagnosis of high iron

To diagnose hemochromatosis it will be necessary to perform a series of tests, first the patient’s history will be reviewed to see if it is a hereditary case, then it will be necessary to perform a physical examination to detect if there is swelling in the liver or spleen. Subsequently, a blood test will be done that will indicate high iron levels .

Ultimately, a liver biopsy will be performed, in which the excess iron can be seen, where it is located and the lesion that this organ presents, in order to rule out other diseases and give a prognosis about this condition.

Treatment for high iron

The purpose of treating hemochromatosis will be to remove excess iron and treat any damage that has been caused. For primary hemochromatosis, treatment will consist of blood draws every week, until iron levels level off. This treatment is for life and periodic follow-ups should be done.

For secondary hemochromatosis, molecules are used that are administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously, which adhere to iron avoiding the toxicity of this metal in the body, they are also known as iron chelators . Testosterone hormone therapy is another treatment option that will help regain libido. In the event of complications, liver failure may occur, requiring a liver transplant.

Additionally, it will be necessary to apply some changes in the diet :

  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Avoid consuming raw seafood and fish.
  • Do not eat foods fortified with this mineral, such as cereals.
  • Do not use kitchen utensils that are made of iron.
  • Consume red meat , olives, liver and chocolate in moderation .
  • Decrease your intake of vitamin C.


The prognosis will depend on the damage that has been caused from the detection of the disease. Without proper treatment, liver damage can be irreversible and a liver transplant will be necessary. Everything will depend on the organs where the iron has accumulated, which can also include the testicles, the pancreas, the joints, the heart or the pituitary.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do I have high iron , we recommend that you enter our Blood, heart and circulation category .

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