The Ultimate Diabetes and Hemochromatosis Quiz

6 PLAYS

Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Hemochromatosis should get more press than it receives. A condition that frequently goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, it can have severe and even life-threatening consequences if untreated. In fact, many people go about a good portion of their lives without a proper diagnosis. Of importance for people with diabetes, hemochromatosis, if untreated, mimics the symptoms of diabetes and can be misdiagnosed as such. Take this quiz and learn about hemochromatosis.

What is hemochromatosis?

Hemochromatosis, also known as “bronze diabetes”, is a single-gene disease that results in iron buildup. Left untreated, it can lead to diabetes onset.

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How common is hemochromatosis?

Approximately 1 in 200 Americans has both genes for hemochromatosis and about half of these people develop symptoms and complications related to hemochromatosis.

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How does hemochromatosis lead to diabetes?

Hemochromatosis can cause diabetes because hemochromatosis causes damage to the pancreas, where insulin is produced. Although hemochromatosis is the most common genetic disorder, it is still relatively unheard of.

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How does hemochromatosis lead to iron overload in the body?

If you have hemochromatosis, your body absorbs too much iron from the food you eat. Over time, tissues in the body, in particular the pancreas, the liver, and heart, develop a significant over accumulation of iron, which leads to damage.

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Besides diabetes, what else may occur if hemochromatosis is not treated?

Left untreated, hemochromatosis can lead to diabetes, heart disease and liver cirrhosis. It can even cause your skin to turn dark gray or bronze, hence the name “bronze diabetes.”

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What is the most common symptom of hemochromatosis?

The most common complaint of hemochromatosis is joint pain. Other symptoms include: fatigue, abdominal pain, decreased sex drive and other symptoms related to heart disease and diabetes.

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When do symptoms of hemochromatosis tend to occur in women?

Symptoms of hemochromatosis only first appear in women after the age of 50. Men begin to experience symptoms of hemochromatosis between the ages of 30 and 50.

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How does a doctor test for hemochromatosis?

Your doctor can test you for hemochromatosis by a transferrin saturation test or a serum ferritin test, which are both blood tests. These tests will determine if your blood iron levels are too high. You can also be assessed for hemochromatosis through genetic testing.

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Why does hemochromatosis often go undiagnosed?

Hemochromatosis is not easily diagnosed, as its symptoms tend to be vague and nonspecific. Doctors may also first think you have other, more common conditions, such as arthritis, liver disease, heart disease or diabetes, due to the fact that the symptoms of hemochromatosis can mimic these conditions.

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What does it mean that hemochromatosis is an example of a “founder effect”?

It is believed that the mutated gene that causes hemochromatosis originated from one person about 60 to 70 generations ago. The founder effect means that hemochromatosis has a sole origin.

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Who is most likely affected by the hemochromatosis mutated gene?

The mutated gene of hemochromatosis originated in Europe. This means that Caucasians of Northern European descent are most likely to have hemochromatosis.

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Why was hemochromatosis able to mutate from one person to thousands of people over time?

Since hemochromatosis affects people after child-bearing age, it has been passed down over many generations, spreading from one person to thousands of people.

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Why is it that women develop hemochromatosis later in age?

Women are somewhat protected from the effects of hemochromatosis, because of childbirth and menstruation. This significant, but natural, loss of blood helps reduce the symptoms of hemochromatosis.

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Why does blood loss help with the effects of hemochromatosis?

When blood is lost from the body, due to childbirth or menstruation for instance, a significant amount of iron is lost as well. This helps with reducing the negative health consequences related to hemochromatosis.

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What is a phlebotomy?

Phlebotomy, also known as blood letting, is the standard treatment for hemochromatosis.

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When fist diagnosed with hemochromatosis, how often do you need phlebotomies?

When you are first diagnosed with hemochromatosis, you are put on an intense phlebotomy schedule. You will required phlebotomies once or twice a week for several months. Once your iron levels reach normal, you will be put on a maintenance phlebotomy schedule.

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How often do you need a phlebotomy on a maintenance schedule?

Once your iron levels are within the normal range, you will only need a phlebotomy once every two to three months. The good news – hemochromatosis is virtually cured with this treatment.

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What is the prognosis if someone receives hemochromatosis treatment after organ damage has occurred?

Unfortunately, if liver damage has already occurred before diagnosis and treatment of hemochromatosis, you will likely be at increased risk for liver cancer. Your pancreas, however, will likely make a full recovery.

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Why doesn't the Red Cross use blood from phlebotomies for transfusions?

Blood from people with hemochromatosis is usually of good quality. The Red Cross, however, has a policy of never giving compensation for blood donations. Since people with hemochromatosis who give blood receive secondary gain, that is alleviation of hemochromatosis symptoms, the Red Cross does not accept their blood.

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Some blood banks in the United States that are not regulated by the Red Cross:

The American Food and Drug Administration regulations allow people with hemochromatosis to donate blood. You can find blood banks that are not regulated by the Red Cross that accept such blood under special regulations set out by the FDA.

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