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Hemochromatosis

Also called: Iron overload disease

Summary

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

Start Here

  • (American Liver Foundation)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in

Symptoms

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Diagnosis and Tests

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • (Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation)

Living With

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Specifics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Genetics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Human Genome Research Institute)

Videos and Tutorials

  • (Dolan DNA Learning Center)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation)

Patient Handouts

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