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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Hemochromatosis and Cirrhosis
In September 2008 I was told I had Hemochromatosis. A diagnosis but no information. On February 1,2009 I was rushed to the ER to find my liver had swollen to twice it`s size. After being referred, my primary doctor requested the results of the test from September 2008 and found that my ferritin level was 6581. Yes 6581. After a retest, my level was at 6200. I had the gene test which confirmed the Hemochromatosis. I have been being treated since. My questions are: Is there a way to know the time line of how long it would take to go from normal to such a high level? And how long would it take for cirrosis to develop as I am aware that ferritin levels over 1000 inflict permanent damage to the liver. Thank you for your help.
In general, hereditary hemochromatosis causes only very small amounts of iron to be absorbed over time, so it really takes years in order to develop toxic levels of iron. The cirrhosis process, which is scarring of the liver, also takes years. Exactly how long is almost impossible to predict since everybody is a little bit different. But these processes are often measured in decades.
Mark Wurster, MD
Former Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University