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High blood iron: when should you worry? We often talk about problems related to low iron values, but even high blood iron can cause some disorders. Let’s find out the causes and symptoms of high iron and what to do in cases of iron overload.
High iron or iron overload occurs when iron values are higher than normal. Iron overload is usually a condition that occurs when the mechanisms for regulating the metabolism of this essential mineral do not work well. In such cases, there is a surplus of iron in the body that causes damage to cells of different severity, depending on the amount of excess iron.
In normal health conditions, iron circulates throughout the body bound to a protein: transferrin. In conditions of overload, however, transferrin can no longer bind all the iron circulating in the body. Consequently, “free” or “unbound” iron (NTBI) begins to circulate in the body: Non-Transferrin Bound Iron) which can promote oxidative stress on cells and thus also damage tissues.
High iron in the blood may be due to:
The clinical picture related to an iron overload is more or less serious depending on the amount of free iron in the body and the duration of the overload. The organs most affected in cases of serious and prolonged high blood iron conditions are: the liver, heart and pancreas. In cases of high iron , the doctor will make the diagnosis by carrying out an accurate medical history of the patient.
If you are following an iron-rich diet or taking iron-rich dietary supplements, it is unlikely that there will be a surplus of this nutrient. Our body, in normal health conditions, is able to regulate the intestinal absorption of iron in order to prevent overloading. If blood tests show high iron values, the doctor will investigate the causes and assess the most suitable therapy to bring the iron values back to normal.
If laboratory tests indicate high blood iron values, the doctor will proceed with identifying the cause of the iron overload. High iron in the body is often related to hereditary haemochromatosis or secondary overload following blood transfusions. In these cases, the doctor will assess the severity of the overload and proceed with prescribing chelation therapy to reduce the amount of free iron.