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I am newly diagnosed with hemochromatosis - that means too much iron in my blood. My doctor should decide on the treatment during the following week. Some of my neighbours mention frequent phlebotomies. What exactly is phlebotomy - I know it has something to do with the blood removal from the body but is it painful? How long will this therapy last?

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In cases of hemochromatosis phlebotomy is the best and the healthiest way to reduce the level of iron in your organism. The process is the same as the one that blood donors go through. At the beginning of the therapy you’ll have to give in yourself to it more often. The frequency will, of course, depend on the stage of the disorder and the level of iron in your blood. Most probably you’ll have to give up to 0.5 l of blood once or twice a week and this will last several months, maybe even a year. The aim is to bring the iron level to normal. When you achieve that aim (I warn you again, it can really take long sometimes) you will have to follow your life - long therapy. This means that you will have phlebotomies every two to four months for the rest of your life (again, the frequency may vary depending on your current condition which is closely monitored). Remember, the sooner you start with phlebotomies (no matter how unpleasant it may sound) the better - you will have more success in preventing the development of serious disorders such as cirrhosis
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