It is estimated that two-thirds of the iron in the blood is found in hemoglobin, whose function lies in the uptake and transport to the tissues of oxygen. However, there is another portion of this mineral in the composition of blood serum, which is the liquid resulting from allowing the blood to clot and removing the clot that has formed; in this case, the iron found in this serum is known as serum iron.
Although the disorder of iron deficiency or lack is well known, an excess of this can be the same or more dangerous for the body, significantly an increase in serum iron, a condition known as hypersideremia, and that occurs with values above 150 mg / dL.
This alteration can cause severe tissue damage, so it is essential to identify what increases the concentration of this mineral. In this FastlyHealarticle, we provide information on high serum iron: causes.
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Symptoms and complications of high serum iron
The increase in iron in the body is reflected in a series of symptoms, which tend to worsen as the condition progresses. In addition, some of them appear more advanced, which can help determine the level of high serum iron. The symptomatology is mainly composed by:
- Muscular weakness.
- Pain in the abdomen or joints.
- Loss of body weight.
- Low sexual desire
- Loss of body hair.
- Alterations in the heart.
If hypersideremia is treated in time, the symptoms can be fought. Still, when serum iron is very high, or this excess has been prolonged and has already caused some damage to the body, they are not usually reversible. Some of the most important complications are:
It is a disease of genetic origin in which there is an alteration in the HFE gene involved in regulating iron absorption in the body. The mutated gene must be inherited from both parents to develop primary hemochromatosis. A single copy of said gene does not tend to be expressed and only makes the person a disease carrier. Likewise, it is more frequent in men than women because menstruation and pregnancy decrease iron accumulation.
The excess of serum iron due to the more excellent absorption due to primary hemochromatosis causes the function of this mineral to be lost. It generates an increase in oxygen radicals, which cause oxidative stress, affecting the organs in which it is accumulated, such as the liver and pancreas.
Some conditions can cause red blood cells to be destroyed prematurely, before the standard 90 or 120 days of life. Among the most common causes that cause this to happen, we find:
- An inherited disorder
- Autoimmune diseases
- Certain drugs
- Exposure to chemicals
Although the bone marrow tries to counteract this disorder with increased production of erythrocytes, they are not enough to replace the lost amount, which is when hemolytic anemia occurs. This causes a high amount of free iron and increases even more, when blood transfusions are given as part of the treatment to supply red blood cells. In the following FastlyHealarticle, we explain everything you need to know about hemolytic anemia: causes, symptoms, and treatment.
The liver is the main store of iron in the body because this mineral, when absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, is taken to the said organ to be metabolized. Later, it is integrated into the blood circulation in the necessary quantities.
However, when the liver is damaged by some alteration, such as hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, liver necrosis, or fatty liver, it prevents its functions from being carried out properly, including iron metabolism and its elimination. This causes an excess of serum iron in the body, reaching a concentration of 5 to 20 times more than is required. This increase in the mineral can generate oxidative stress and further deteriorate the liver.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Another cause of the increase in iron in the blood serum is the deficiency of vitamin B12, also called cobalamin. It is a rare disorder since this vitamin is usually stored in the liver in considerable quantities to meet the needs if it is not ingested in food. However, some conditions could alter its level in the body, including gastrointestinal diseases or very diets. strict that do not include meat or animal derivatives.
Among the many functions of cobalamin, its intervention is essential in forming red blood cells. Therefore, by decreasing its level, the production of erythrocytes decreases but their size increases, as does the amount of iron that binds to them. This condition does not meet the body’s requirements, and if it is prolonged, it can cause pernicious anemia to develop, in whose diagnostic tests, high serum iron is observed.
The following article will explain the foods rich in vitamin B12 to avoid its deficiency.
The excessive contribution of iron is another reason why iron is a high iron value in the blood serum. This occurs mainly in three ways:
- One of them is a diet rich in this mineral. Foods such as meat, organ meats, fish, and egg yolk are included in high quantities, accompanying them with those containing a lot of vitamin C, which favors the more excellent absorption of iron.
- Another way in which serum iron rises is related to self-medication. A widespread mistake is to consume iron supplements without the guidance of the specialist or alter the indications of the same in terms of dose and duration of treatment. It is possible to acquire more iron than is needed per day, which results in the accumulation of the mineral and can cause complications in the long run.
- On the other hand, people who need several blood transfusions to counteract some other pathology may suffer from an increase in serum iron since they provide a continuous supply of this mineral and exceed the necessary amount.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.