Too Much Iron: Symptoms and Side Effects of Excess Iron in Blood

Iron is an important mineral that needs to be included in the diet. Iron plays a crucial role in formation of hemoglobin, which is responsible for improving the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Iron ensures energetic and active functioning of the body. However, excessive iron is often is often linked with a host of problems.

What Happens If You Excess Iron in Blood?

Under normal conditions, Iron can be lost by sweating, menstruating, intestinal shedding, and in giving birth, it needs to be constantly replenished however excessive intake of iron can result in more harm to the body then benefits. Though relatively rare condition, excessive intake of iron supplements can result in excess of iron in the blood.

Symptoms

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea and vomiting with unexplained diarrhea which may be with or without blood in stools. Gastrointestinal symptoms are often associated with shooting and cramping pain in the abdomen. Constipation alternating with diarrhea can be observed in many cases.
  • In cases of excessive intake of iron, some patients may experience excessive sweating with overall weakness and malaise.
    Some individuals may often complain of low grade fever. The skin may appear pale and profuse sweating
  • Breathing often becomes shallow and rapid with irregular and rapid heartbeats.
  • Muscle cramps, especially in the lower extremities may be pronounced
  • Heartburn and acid reflux are also common complaints associated with excessive intake of iron

In addition certain other symptoms like dark and smelly urine along with staining of the teeth may also be recorded.

Side Effects of Too Much Iron

A mere intake of over 200 mg of iron per day can result in iron poisoning in children. Excessive use of iron supplements is considered to be the primary factor responsible for poisoning in children. Some of the common side effects associated with the excessive intake of iron include the following.

  • Dark and hard stools often associated with severe constipation is a common complaint associated with excessive intake of iron
  • Some studies have shown that excessive iron can increase the risk of developing serious health disorders like diabetes, Huntington’s disease and even cancer. Further, excessive iron intake can worsen the symptoms associated with arthritis
  • Iron is usually processed in the liver and hence increase levels of iron in blood increase the risk of liver damage.
  • Further iron can result in retention of fluids in the lungs which in turn tends to result in difficulty in breathing and excessive coughing
  • Excessive iron can also affect clotting functions, which in turn increases the risk of formation of plaques in individuals with cardiac disorders. This can result in symptoms like chest pain and leg cramps
  • In addition, fall in blood pressure and dehydration can further result in shock.

Though elevated levels of iron in blood is a relatively rare condition, it can result in severe complications and need to be evaluated thoroughly.

2 thoughts on “Too Much Iron: Symptoms and Side Effects of Excess Iron in Blood

  • March 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm
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    I had polyps in my bladder. They were removed about 2 months ago. The doctor said to expect some bleeding for up to 2 months. I have some bleeding when I urinate with little clots of blood. Is this normal?

    Reply
    • March 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm
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      It may take time for the wound to heal inside the bladder after polypectomy. As per your doctor’s view, mild bleeding is expected during urination. However if it persists for a longer duration, or if there is excess of bleeding while urinating you have to consult your doctor.

      Reply

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