Men's Health: Hemochromatosis


"My hair is falling out"

"I've got weird stomach pains"

"I'm losing my sex drive"

I hear statements like these everyday. I tend to spend a lot of time working with women in my practice, but I'm seeing more and more men complaining of fatigue, stomach pain, low libido and hair loss. Figuring out WHY these symptoms are coming on is the most important part. 

Hormones can play a role here, so checking testosterone and cortisol (stress hormone) can help us determine if there's an imbalance. The next thing I check when I see this cluster of symptoms is iron. A full iron panel includes total iron binding capacity, saturation index, and ferritin. In women, we often find low ferritin (iron) as the cause of hair loss and low energy. In men with a family history of hemochromatosis high iron can be a problem.

While high iron doesn't sound too bad, it can lead to liver dysfunction. Extra iron ends up stored in your liver and can cause damage. The damage in the liver can lead to impaired ability to process cholesterol, impaired digestion, and impaired detoxification processes. 

The treatment of high iron levels is blood donation, but we also have to treat the liver damage that can be present. Rehabilitating the liver and regular blood donation can lead to long term improvements in health and well-being.