Iron chelation therapy is a treatment used to remove excess iron from the body. Iron overload can occur as a result of certain medical conditions such as thalassemia and hemochromatosis, or as a complication of blood transfusions. The excess iron can accumulate in various organs of the body and can cause damage to these organs over time. Iron chelation therapy is used to remove this excess iron and prevent further damage.
Causes of Iron Overload
Iron overload can be caused by a variety of medical conditions and treatments, such as:
- Thalassemia: Thalassemia is a group of inherited blood disorders that affects the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues. The condition is characterized by the abnormal formation of hemoglobin, leading to the destruction of red blood cells. Individuals with thalassemia may require regular blood transfusions, which can cause iron to accumulate in the body.
- Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes the body to absorb too much iron from the diet. The excess iron can accumulate in the liver, heart, pancreas, and other organs, causing damage over time.
- Blood transfusions: Blood transfusions are used to replace lost blood, blood cells, or blood products. They can cause iron to accumulate in the body, especially in individuals who require frequent blood transfusions.
Symptoms of Iron Overload
Iron overload can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the organs that are affected. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Skin pigmentation
- Cirrhosis of liver
- Cardiac complications
Types of Iron Chelation Therapy
Iron chelation therapy can be administered in different ways, depending on the type of condition and the individual’s needs. Some of the most common types of iron chelation therapy include:
- Oral chelating agents: Oral chelating agents, such as deferoxamine and deferasirox, are taken by mouth and work by binding to the iron in the body and helping the body excrete it.
- Intravenous chelating agents: Intravenous chelating agents, such as deferoxamine and deferiprone, are given through a vein and work by binding to the iron in the body and helping the body excrete it.
- Subcutaneous chelating agents: Subcutaneous chelating agents, such as Deferiprone, are given under the skin, and work in a similar way to oral and intravenous chelating agents.
Side effects and Risks
Iron chelation therapy can cause a variety of side effects, depending on the type of chelating agent used and the individual’s response to treatment. Some of the most common side effects include:
- visual disturbances
- skin reactions
- Muscle pain
Risks associated with iron chelation therapy may include development of resistance to chelating agents, low blood sugar in diabetic patients, low white blood cell count, risk of infection and potential for certain long-term kidney or hearing impairments.
Iron chelation therapy is a treatment used to remove excess iron from the body caused by certain medical conditions and treatments. The therapy can help prevent further damage to the organs caused by excess iron.