Since you’re here, you’ve likely been looking into fibromyalgia and whether or not it is the cause of the issues that you may be dealing with on a regular basis. That being said, it’s important for you to know whether or not your symptoms could be caused by any number of other diseases.
Even though some of the symptoms may overlap, it’s important to know which disorders you’re dealing with so that you can get appropriate treatment. One disease that frequently gets mixed up with fibromyalgia is Hemochromatosis. How are they related? What are the differences? We’re going to look at that here in this article.
What is Hemochromatosis?
In short, Hemochromatosis is an iron disorder. Essentially, it’s the opposite of anemia – instead of not having enough iron in your body; you end up holding way too much in your body (bloodstream, muscles, etc). Your body only needs so much iron, so if you’re overloading it with your diet, you’re going to find that there are a number of issues that you will have to deal with in the process.
Your body only holds about 1/10 of the iron that you get from foods. When someone is fighting off Hemochromatosis, they are going to end up holding about 1/3 of the iron that they ingest.
Your body can’t get rid of the iron in any way, so it stores it pretty much everywhere. That’s a problem because if there’s too much iron buildup, it could cause the organs not to function.
The pancreas, the heart, and the liver are the organs that are most commonly affected by Hemochromatosis, but there are other areas of the body that may end up fighting it off as well, including the stomach, the kidneys, and various muscle tissues throughout the entire body.
Hemochromatosis has a number of different causes. In some cases, it’s hereditary, which means it’s passed down through your family line in one way or another (it only has to be present in one parent to be possible; if it is present in both parents, your child will definitely have the disorder.
There is secondary Hemochromatosis, which comes from drinking too much alcohol or from your body overreacting to anemia (trying to overcompensate for the lack of iron in your body). The other types of Hemochromatosis, which are juvenile and neonatal, happen because one of the genes starts to work incorrectly and ends up causing the body to start absorbing and holding in too much iron from the food that the teenager or baby is eating. The cause of the gene’s mutation in teenagers and infants is unknown and research is still being conducted as to the relationship between the two.
How Are the Two Related?
So why do people mix up Hemochromatosis and fibromyalgia? How do the two interact, and what can happen in both cases? There are a few things that we have to consider here – first, remember, fibromyalgia is developed over a period of time, whereas Hemochromatosis is genetic, so they are very different diseases, but they often have a number of links and there is some overlap between the two diseases.
Many of the symptoms of Hemochromatosis are similar to what you may be dealing with as part of your fibromyalgia. The big overlaps happen with the pain in your joints (which, if not treated correctly, can end up leading to arthritis later in your life), the fatigue, and the abdominal pain. Sometimes, Hemochromatosis ends up being misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome at times as well, much like fibromyalgia can end up being misdiagnosed.
The fatigue is an overlap in a number of disorders, so you will want to keep an eye on it and talk to your doctor if anything seems to be changing unexpectedly with your fatigue. It may indicate that there is another issue going on. Also, if you note that your joints are in a lot of pain and you don’t feel as if you are going to be able to move, it could be a problem from either of these diagnoses.
That being said, Hemochromatosis has two specific symptoms that you usually don’t find with fibromyalgia. One is the loss of a sex drive (libido). Even though the pain from fibromyalgia may make it hard for you to enjoy sexual intercourse, it really isn’t due to a loss of libido.
That being said, some of the medications that are used to treat fibromyalgia can cause the loss of libido, so make sure that you keep an eye on your sex drive and take note of any changes that may happen over time when it comes to how you are feeling sexually. Another symptom that is more common with Hemochromatosis is heart problems and pain. This is due to the heart being one of the main targets of what is going on with the excess iron in your body.
In some cases, those with Hemochromatosis will end up struggling with fibromyalgia as well, but it doesn’t happen the other way very often, since Hemochromatosis is primarily a genetic disease that you end up having from birth, basically. That being said, it’s important to understand that even though you may have Hemochromatosis, you may not end up getting fibromyalgia – it’s just a possibility and it’s not something that you should put a lot of worry into.
Take care of your Hemochromatosis as you should and make sure that your body is getting exactly what it needs in order to thrive.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you have fibromyalgia or your symptoms are, instead, from hemochromatosis, you will want to sit down and have a talk with your doctor. They will be able to diagnose your fibromyalgia based on a number of criteria (including blood tests) and answer any questions that you may have about what is going on in your body. Determining which you have is important to figure out how to treat the disorder and how to find relief from it.