Campaigners are working today to raise awareness about a genetic condition known as the ‘Celtic Curse’.
Haemochromatosis is a disorder which causes the body to store excessive iron in the body, which can lead to serious health issues such as fatigue, joint pain, loss of sex drive and even damage to major organs.
The condition gets its name the ‘Celtic Curse’ because people in Ireland, and of Irish descent, are more likely to suffer than anyone else in the world.
It is estimated that one in 83 Irish people could get the condition at some point in their lives, and one in five could be a carrier of the gene.
The gene can be passed on by either parent.
June 7th has been made National Awareness day for haemochromatosis. There will be information stands and volunteers spread across the country to inform people about the potential risks.
Leinster rugby star Sean O’Brien is one of several big names to throw his support behind the campaign.
Anyone suffering from symptoms such as joint pain, irregular heartbeat, loss of sex drive and chronic fatigue is advised to visit their local doctor to be checked.
The diagnosis is fairly straight forward, and a routine blood test can tell if the body is storing too much iron.
Thankfully, the treatment is also fairly simple. A involves a removal of blood in order to dilute the iron levels, and is not dissimilar to giving a blood donation.
Professor Suzanne Norris of St James’s Hospital explained: “Ill health from Hemochromatosis and the development of serious complications such as cirrhosis can be prevented by simple treatment. Life expectancy in treated non-cirrhotic patients is normal.
“Early diagnosis is therefore critical and Hemochromatosis is an ideal condition to consider for population screening in Ireland.”