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Treatment - Haemochromatosis

There's no cure for haemochromatosis. But there are treatments that can reduce the amount of iron in your body.

Treatments can ease some of the symptoms. They can also reduce the risk of damage to organs such as your heart, liver and pancreas.

Venesection (phlebotomy)

The main treatment for managing haemochromatosis is venesection (phlebotomy). This is a procedure to remove some of your blood. It is like giving blood.

When you remove blood:

  • you remove red blood cells that contain iron
  • your body uses up iron to replace the red blood cells

There are 2 main stages to treatment:

  • induction - blood is removed every week until your iron levels are normal
  • maintenance - blood is removed about 2 to 4 times a year for the rest of your life

You may feel dizzy or faint after venesection but this usually passes off quickly.

Diet and alcohol

If you have haemochromatosis, keep a healthy and balanced diet.


  • do not eat breakfast cereals that have extra iron added (fortified)

  • do not take iron and vitamin C supplements

  • do not eat raw oysters and clams - these may contain bacteria that can cause serious infections if you have high iron levels

  • do not drink too much alcohol - this can increase iron in your body and put strain on your liver

Page last reviewed: 8 August 2023
Next review due: 8 August 2026

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.