Genetic mutation causes the body to absorb and store more iron than it usually does, more like 2 to 3 times! Once absorbed, there is no physiological mechanism to get rid of this iron (other than through menstruation, giving birth or bleeding) so the body accumulates this iron leading to iron overload with decades.
Clinical signsThe issue with HH is that the early signs are so vague and non-specific, making it harder to diagnose it earlier. At first, they range form fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain and weight loss because free iron generates the production of free radicals, damaging lipids and DNA! However, as time passes by and iron accumulates in the body >> symptoms become serious: loss of libido, arthritis, amenorrhea, sexual impotence, dyspnea to reach to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, heart failure, diabetes, etc.!
TreatmentsPhlebotomy is the primary choice of treatment. Excess iron is removed through drawing off of a unit of blood, using the same technique as a blood donation, but with a much higher frequency. This treatment is effective because phlebotomies remove red blood cells that contain iron thus a signal is sent for the stored iron in the tissues and organs to be pulled out to make new red blood cells. It could be done once or twice per week. Now, phlebotomies have been shown to increase the quality of life but lots of phlebotomies can be damaging on the long run. Therefore, watching your diet is crucial!
However, there's a rumor going on that Rudolph's red nose maybe just a symptom of HH, so hey, his nose is so great that it illuminates the team's path to lead Santa's sleigh.
HH doesn't limit you.
Santa and Rudolph