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Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month – July 2023

Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month, occurring in July of every year, shine through as we consider how to tend to our health. Few people know and understand this disorder, and even fewer know of protective measures against it. Therefore, July has been dedicated to creating awareness of the disease. This month, people screen themselves to ensure they are healthy and safe. To avoid being one of the unaware, we present to you this article as a chance to educate yourself and share this information with your friends and loved ones.

History of Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month

Hemochromatosis is an iron storage disorder that causes the body to absorb excessive iron from foods and other sources, such as iron-fortified multivitamin supplements. This extra iron can gradually accumulate in the body’s tissues and organs, particularly liver cells, the heart, the pancreas, joints, and the pituitary gland. Left untreated, the iron buildup may eventually cause tissue and organ damage. Primary hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder also known as hereditary hemochromatosis. Anemia, alcoholism, and other conditions can all lead to secondary hemochromatosis.

Hereditary hemochromatosis is the most common type of hemochromatosis in adults in the United States. Family members share genes, behaviors, lifestyles, and environments, all of which can impact health and disease. Having one or more close relatives who suffer from a chronic condition makes you more susceptible to that condition. So, a familial medical history is essential in understanding the health issues that run in your family.

Hemochromatosis is not unique in having a month dedicated to it. Thousands of awareness weeks and months have been established to spread awareness of illnesses and medical concerns that require check-ups to keep people and communities safe.

In 2007, Dr. Margit Krikker, M.D., founder of the Hemochromatosis Foundation, Albany, New York, established July as the month to screen for hemochromatosis in the United States. Dr. Krikker once took out a full-page ad in the “New York Times” to raise awareness of this metabolic disorder. She was a true trailblazer, and we followed in her footsteps recognizing July as the National Hemochromatosis Screening and Awareness Month.

Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month timeline

A Scary New Disorder

Hemochromatosis is first identified.

What is It Called?

German pathologist Friedrich Daniel von Recklinghausen coins the term hemochromatosis to describe iron buildup in body tissues.

It’s Hereditary

Medical scientists declare hemochromatosis an inherited disease resulting in iron
overload and deposition.

July Means Getting Tested

Dr. Margit Krikker, the founder of the Hemochromatosis Foundation, establishes July as the month to screen for hemochromatosis in the U.S.

Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month FAQs

Who should be screened for hemochromatosis?

If you have a first-degree relative with hereditary hemochromatosis and are between the ages of 18 and 30, you should be screened. The longer it remains untreated, the greater the risk of organ damage. The initial testing will almost certainly consist of a battery of blood tests.

Is hemochromatosis classed as a disability?

The Equality Act of 2010 recognizes genetic hemochromatosis as a disability. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a protected characteristic under the Act, defined as a “physical or mental impairment” that has a “substantial and long-term adverse effect” on someone’s “ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

Can I donate blood if I have hemochromatosis?

Many patients with Hereditary Haemochromatosis can now donate blood and help save lives. Patients can become regular blood donors at any blood donation clinic in the United States, including community clinics.

How to Observe Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month

  1. Go get screened for hemochromatosis

    Go and get screened for the disorder so that you can know whether you are susceptible or not. You can also encourage your entire family to do the same for you all to be on the same page. If you lack the funds or don’t have medical insurance, seek out community screening establishments.

  2. Read up on hemochromatosis

    The name itself can sound very scary, so arm yourself with some knowledge to better understand this disorder and how you can keep yourself healthy and safe. Please, do not only Google the disorder, as many online resources are unreliable and may create panic. It is better to source information from your nearest doctor or hospital, where they will have printed out pamphlets or booklets with more information.

  3. Put together a family medical history

    Understanding your family’s medical history is very important for anyone seeking healthier, less stressful life. Visit your nearest doctor or medical center and start compiling your family’s medical history. You can then circulate it amongst the family members so that everyone can be up to date and know what issues or disorders they may have.

5 Things You Need To Know About Hemochromatosis

  1. Early symptoms include fatigue and abdominal pain

    Fatigue, weakness, impotence, and joint and gut pain are early symptoms of hereditary hemochromatosis.

  2. Seek treatment immediately

    Left untreated, up to one-half of those affected could die from liver cancer.

  3. Treatment includes drawing blood

    To reduce the number of red blood cells, a simple treatment is to remove up to 19.2 fl oz of blood from the body every week.

  4. It causes severe damage to the organs

    Because the human body lacks iron excretion mechanisms, excess iron can eventually cause significant damage.

  5. Getting screened can save your life

    The transferrin saturation test can detect hereditary hemochromatosis even before symptoms appear.

Why Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month is Important

  1. It can save your life

    It is imperative to make sure you get screened for this disorder as it can alter your life entirely if you have it. This month is dedicated to urging people to get tested for the disorder. If you can protect yourself from getting a potentially fatal disorder, you absolutely should. You should also encourage others to do the same.

  2. Encourages people to get tested

    Not only for hemochromatosis, but people might get other tests and check-ups while they’re at it. This kind of thing can give you incredible peace of mind, which is another reason we encourage it so strongly.

  3. Inspires millions to live healthier

    Getting screened and tested for potentially harmful diseases and disorders is not fun, but the willingness to go through this shows that people care more now about living healthier lives than in the past. Being healthy goes beyond just healthy eating and getting exercise. It’s about knowing your status, being aware of your family’s medical history, and educating yourself on your body and its other functions, not just how many laps you can swim in the pool or how much weight you can lift.

Hemochromatosis Screening And Awareness Month dates

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