We all require iron to produce haemoglobin in red blood cells, to transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. Iron is also an essential component of myoglobin to store and diffuse oxygen in muscle cells. There is tight regulation on iron absorption and recycling to prevent iron overload. Those who cannot regulate absorption may suffer from iron overload. Iron overload may occur as a result of repeated blood transfusions, inheritance of a genetic condition called haemochromatosis, or sustained overdose. Iron is excreted in sweat and by shedding skin cells and cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. If you have prolonged exposure to iron through ingestion or occupational exposure, it may be advisable to attend your family doctor for a detailed history of your symptoms, clinical examination, and routine blood tests, to check for the presence of iron overload.
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