First Time User? Sign Up Now
For the visually-impaired, please click here.
Home > Health Library > Hemochromatosis
Hemochromatosis is a condition that occurs when too much iron builds up in the body. Small amounts of iron are normally stored in the liver and heart, but excess iron will eventually damage these organs.
There are two types of hemochromatosis:
The most common form of hemochromatosis is passed down through the genes in families.
A person may develop acquired hemochromatosis from having many blood transfusions, certain blood disorders (such as thalassemia), or chronic liver disease or from taking excessive or unnecessary iron supplements. In rare cases, a person may develop hemochromatosis if his or her diet contains too much iron.
Hereditary hemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic conditions in white people, especially those of Northern European descent. Excess iron builds up slowly throughout life. Most people with hemochromatosis notice symptoms when they are age 40 to 60. These symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, weakness, excess urination, and weight loss.
If hemochromatosis is recognized early, it can be treated before other problems start. It is treated by removing excess iron from the blood, either by removing blood from the body (phlebotomy) or by taking a medicine (chelating agent) that binds to and removes iron from the body. Hereditary hemochromatosis requires treatment throughout a person's life. Acquired hemochromatosis does not need further treatment after the condition has been corrected.
Current as of:
March 28, 2019
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
UNC Rockingham Health Care
117 E Kings Hwy
Eden, NC, 27288
Copyright 2020 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.