Symptoms and Signs of Hemochromatosis
(Iron Overload)

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Hemochromatosis
(Iron Overload)

Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a genetic disorder that causes excess iron retention in the body. Normally, the balance of iron concentration in the body is regulated by the amount of iron stored in the body. Iron may be lost in the sweat, shed from the skin, and excreted from the cells in the intestines. Iron overload results when this regulatory mechanism is impaired and an excess amount of iron is absorbed from the intestines regardless of the iron stores already in the body.

Symptoms of hemochromatosis include weakness, weariness, weight loss, change in skin color (discoloration), abdominal pain, and loss of sex drive. Hemochromatosis often affects the liver, pancreas, joints, skin, heart, testicles, and the thyroid gland. Symptoms that may result from these organs being affected include liver disease, diabetes mellitus, joint pain and arthritis, heart failure or heart rhythm disturbances, impotence (erectile dysfunction), or hypothyroidism.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.