Iron reduction—removing excess iron from your body
Blood donation—a donor is limited to making a donation no more frequently than every 8 weeks (~56 days). Routine blood donation can be done through blood centers; some centers require an appointment.
Therapeutic phlebotomy—which is the same as a blood donation, but a physician’s order is required because the person can have blood removed more frequently. Many blood centers in the USA offer Hemochromatosis Donor Programs where the patient’s phlebotomy can be done free of charge. A doctor’s order is required and most centers have their own form. You should contact the center to ask about their policy on orders and ask which locations offer a Hemochromatosis Donor Program. Quick link to blood centers offering this program.
Red Cell Apheresis: sometimes referred to as Double Red Cell Apheresis (DRCA), this approach can be used for hemochromatosis patients. Some blood centers offer this procedure under their hemochromatosis program, which requires a special variance from the FDA and an order from physician. Details are contained in our Physician Reference Guide, where other therapies are discussed.
Iron chelation—is the removal of iron with medicines specifically formulated to bind with iron so that it can be excreted. Iron chelators are administered orally or intravenously. Your healthcare provider will advise you where this type of therapy will be performed and address any side effects you may experience. To learn more about this iron reduction approach, we encourage you to read the section on iron chelation therapy.
Iron replenishment—giving you more iron
Iron supplementation—is the use of oral iron in the form of a pill, fortified food or a liquid. Most iron pills are ferrous sulfate, a non-heme type of iron and available over-the-counter. Heme-based iron pills are not so commonly found over the counter, but can be obtained with a prescription. We encourage you to read about iron deficiency anemia, anemia of chronic disease and the diet for iron deficiency with or without anemia before taking iron pills.
Iron injections or infusions—are often used when a person is chronically iron deficient. Your healthcare provider will advise you where this type of therapy will be performed and address any side effects you may experience. We encourage you to read about Iron: Injected, Infused (PDF) which is available in the Iron Library Resources Tab.
Blood transfusions—are given to patients with life-threatening situations; they may have an immediate need for a few transfusions or a blood disorder that means a lifetime of transfusions. Your healthcare provider will advise you where this type of therapy will be performed and address any side effects you may experience. We encourage you to read about transfusional iron overload. Transfusional Iron Overload Brochure.
List of prescription medications (drugs) approved for use in the USA that might be recommended for patients with an iron disorder. The generic form is listed first followed by brand names:
- Deferioxamine (Desferal®)
- Deferasirox (Exjade®)
- Erythropoietin (Procrit®, Epogen®)
- Levothyroxine (Synthyroid®)