Also called: Iron overload disease

Hemochromatosis is a disease in which too much iron builds up in your body. Your body needs iron but too much of it is toxic. If you have hemochromatosis, you absorb more iron than you need. Your body has no natural way to get rid of the extra iron. It stores it in body tissues, especially the liver, heart, and pancreas. The extra iron can damage your organs. Without treatment, it can cause your organs to fail.

There are two types of hemochromatosis. Primary hemochromatosis is an inherited disease. Secondary hemochromatosis is usually the result of something else, such as anemia, thalassemia, liver disease, or blood transfusions.

Many symptoms of hemochromatosis are similar to those of other diseases. Not everyone has symptoms. If you do, you may have joint pain, fatigue, general weakness, weight loss, and stomach pain.

Your doctor will diagnose hemochromatosis based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and the results from tests and procedures. Treatments include removing blood (and iron) from your body, medicines, and changes in your diet.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of Hemochromatosis

The following features are indicative of Hemochromatosis:
  • joint pain
  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • diabetes
  • loss of sex drive
  • impotence
  • heart failure
  • liver failure
It is possible that Hemochromatosis shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Hemochromatosis

The following are the most common causes of Hemochromatosis:
  • mutation in C282Y and H63D genes
  • blood transfusions in patient with severe anemia
  • liver diseases

Risk Factors for Hemochromatosis

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Hemochromatosis:
  • family history
  • hereditary

Prevention of Hemochromatosis

No, it is not possible to prevent Hemochromatosis.
  • genetic mutations in genes including FTH1, HAMP, HFE, HFE2

Occurrence of Hemochromatosis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Hemochromatosis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Hemochromatosis can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Hemochromatosis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Hemochromatosis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Hemochromatosis:
  • Serum transferrin saturation test: To measure the amount of iron bound to a protein transferrin
  • Serum ferritin: To measures the amount of iron stored in the liver
  • Liver function tests: To evaluate the liver damage
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: To measure the degree of iron overload in the liver
  • Genetic testing: To diagnose the hemochromatosis
  • Liver biopsy: To diagnose the hemochromatosis

Doctor for Diagnosis of Hemochromatosis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Hemochromatosis:
  • Hematologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Primary care doctor

Complications of Hemochromatosis if untreated

Yes, Hemochromatosis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Hemochromatosis is left untreated:
  • liver problems
  • pancreas problems
  • heart problems
  • reproductive problems
  • skin color changes
  • cirrhosis

Procedures for Treatment of Hemochromatosis

The following procedures are used to treat Hemochromatosis:
  • Phlebotomy: Eliminate blood from your body and lowers your iron levels to normal

Self-care for Hemochromatosis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Hemochromatosis:
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages: Lowers the risk of liver damage in people with hereditary hemochromatosis
  • Avoid vitamin C supplements: Reduces the absorption of iron
  • Avoid eating raw fish and shellfish: Decreases your risk of complications from hemochromatosis

Patient Support for Treatment of Hemochromatosis

The following actions may help Hemochromatosis patients:
  • Genetic counseling: Beneficial for affected individuals and their families

Time for Treatment of Hemochromatosis

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Hemochromatosis to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Hemochromatosis.

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