Living with Genetic Haemochromatosis

How effective is treatment?

Venesection treatment will cause tissue iron to be mobilised and iron stores will return to normal. However, it will not cure some serious clinical conditions such as diabetes or cirrhosis if they are already present at the time treatment is started.

This emphasises the need for early diagnosis. 

Diet and alcohol          What diet do I follow?

It is not possible to treat GH with a low iron diet.

Individuals with haemochromatosis are concerned they will have to give up their favourite foods and are surprised to learn this is not always necessary.

A balanced diet of good lean meats, fruits, vegetables and grains that are not heavily fortified with iron.

The rate of iron absorption can be slowed by:

  • GH patients should avoid vitamin supplements or tonics containing iron and breakfast cereals heavily fortified with iron 

  • Vitamin C enhances iron absorption, so avoid it at mealtime

  • Patients should limit their intake of offal 

  • Limiting alcohol intake, particularly with meals, alcohol enhances the absorption or iron and contributes to liver disease

  • Raw shellfish such as oysters can be infected with a bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus which can be deadly to someone with high iron 

  • Tobacco smoke contains iron and is absorbed directly into the blood 

  • Water - some well water contains iron