Aug 2, 2022
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Iron in the blood: consequences of excess iron in the body

Iron in the blood: consequences of excess iron in the bodyiron in the bloodiron in the bloodiron in the blood

An excess of iron refers to a group of disease-causing abnormalities caused by an excessive accumulation of iron ions in the body. A large concentration of a substance causes damage to internal organs. It is formed during genetic mutations or against the background of a blood disease, liver dysfunction. In case of serious damage, the destruction of vital systems occurs. The later the deviation is diagnosed, the more difficult it is to return to the previous state.

An increased concentration threatens human life and health, therefore, a number of measures are being taken to normalize the level of the substance. For example, Exjade tablets with an excess of iron contribute to the natural excretion of the microelement from the body, reducing the negative impact on the internal organs.

The content of the article

  • The role of iron
  • What affects the level
  • Symptoms
  • The reasons
  • Diagnosis
  • Care

The role of iron

The level of iron in the blood is fundamental to the metabolism, growth and division of cells. In the normal state, the excess trace element is excreted from the body naturally. With deviations, the substance accumulates, exerting a cytotoxic effect. The metal destroys proteins and nucleic acids. A similar situation occurs with an acute deficiency of the component.

If an imbalance is not detected in time, the risk of developing irreversible changes in the performance of internal organs increases. In this regard, the amount of iron is carefully controlled.

The highest concentration is contained in two systems:

  • blood plasma;
  • Bone marrow.

At the stage of metabolism, the element is more associated with proteins. In its free form, the metal has a low concentration. Every day a person loses no more than 2.5 mg along with the skin epithelium, gastrointestinal tract, sweating. About 1-2 mg of the substance is absorbed by the intestines.

If an excess of iron is concentrated in the blood serum, an overload syndrome is formed, which has a toxic effect on the body.

What affects the level

Ferritin is an important component of hemoglobin, which makes up erythrocytes (red blood cells). They contain 2/3 of the total component in the human body, and are responsible for transporting oxygen to all organs and systems. However, this is not the only function of iron:

  • cholesterol metabolism;
  • converting calories into energy;
  • elimination of toxins;
  • increase the efficiency of immunity;
  • processing of carbon dioxide by the lungs;
  • maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails.

With a lack of iron in the human body, there is a decrease in the efficiency of using the generated energy. A decrease in the concentration of a substance leads to the following consequences:

  • concentration of attention worsens;
  • increased irritability;
  • a feeling of fatigue prevails (even after a long rest);
  • change in food preferences.

The level of hemoglobin synthesis in children is especially strictly controlled. The lack of a trace element causes dysfunction of the nervous system, leading to mental retardation.


Excess iron in the body is formed for several years, so you can immediately detect the deviation by treating concomitant diseases. In the early stages of development, the symptoms are blurred, do not give a clear clinical picture. Accompanied by:

  • increased weakness;
  • fatigue;
  • weight loss.

As the disease progresses, the signs take on the characteristic features of iron overload syndrome. It:

  • aching joint pain;
  • change in skin color to bronze and dark brown (pigment spots are localized on the face, neck, back of the hands);
  • lack of sexual desire;
  • violation of the menstrual cycle (women);
  • erectile dysfunction (men);
  • diabetes mellitus (determined by a constant feeling of thirst);
  • muscle weakness;
  • intense urination;
  • pain in the right hypochondrium (due to an enlarged liver);
  • change in heart rate.

Symptoms develop gradually as the concentration of iron in the blood increases. If therapy is not started on time, the risk of developing chronic diseases with an unfavorable prognosis increases.

The reasons

The most common factor that causes excessive accumulation of iron in the body is genetic mutations. In the heterozygous form, the disease is asymptomatic. There is a slight increase in the amount of trace elements. The homozygous form is accompanied by pronounced symptoms.

Acquired causes of excess iron are:

  1. non-alcoholic liver disease. Chronic viral hepatitis causes the death of hepatocytes, which suppress protein production. As a result, the level of “free” metal rises.
  2. Chronic form of alcoholism. As a result of prolonged use of alcohol-containing products, the concentration of iron increases, caused by the intensive absorption of the element by the small intestine.
  3. Multiple blood transfusions with a predominance of red blood cells. It often occurs in patients with hematological pathology. Such procedures are always characterized by a surge of the trace element in the blood test.
  4. Hemolytic anemia. Promotes a change in the structure of erythrocytes with the release of free iron.
  5. Medicines. Due to the lack of effective methods for removing excess iron from the body, violations of the dosage and frequency of intake cause an uncontrolled increase in the metal in plasma.

To avoid irreversible consequences, it is recommended to systematically check the level of iron. This will allow you to respond to changes in a timely manner.


Assessment of the patient’s condition consists of a set of procedures that include:

  1. Interview. The doctor specifies the tendency to alcoholism (frequency and volume of consumption of alcoholic beverages), whether blood transfusion procedures were performed. Additionally, the presence of deviations in blood relatives is specified.
  2. Laboratory diagnostics. Collecting a blood test for the level of red blood cells, checking the metabolism of iron.
  3. Liver biopsy. The presence of fibrous parts in the environment of the hepatic lobes, cell synthesis in the bile ducts is checked.

Additionally, genetic testing of mutations is carried out to confirm or refute the hereditary factor.


The nature of the therapeutic course depends on the results of the examination. Regardless of the form of deviations in the level of iron (from a slight increase to damage to the bone marrow), the patient is subject to hospitalization. Treatment is determined by the condition of the patient, the severity of symptoms and the concentration of iron. Comprehensive treatment includes:

  1. Change in diet. Diet is a prerequisite for effective therapy. All foods containing iron, alcohol, easily digestible carbohydrates are excluded (due to the risk of developing diabetes).
  2. bloodletting. It is considered one of the most effective methods. Phlebotomy lasts until the laboratory level of the element is reached.
  3. Medicines. Medicines are prescribed if bloodletting is contraindicated for the patient. Drugs act as proteins that bind to iron ions and are excreted from the body.

Today there is no way to quickly normalize the concentration of a substance the first time. Restoring iron balance is a lengthy therapeutic process.

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