Hereditary Hemochromatosis (Iron Overload)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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What are the symptoms and signs of hemochromatosis?

People with early hemochromatosis have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition. The disease may then be suspected when elevated iron blood levels are noted by routine blood testing.

  • In men, symptoms may not appear until 30-50 years of age. Iron deposits in the skin cause darkening of the skin. Since females lose iron through menstrual blood loss, nonmenstruating women develop symptoms 15 to 20 years later.
  • Iron deposits in the pituitary gland and testicles cause shrinkage of the testicles and impotence.
  • Iron deposits in the pancreas cause a decrease in insulin production resulting in diabetes.
  • Iron deposits in the heart muscle can cause cardiomyopathy and lead to heart failure as well as abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Iron accumulation in the liver causes scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and an increased risk of developing liver cancer.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/30/2015
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  • Iron Overload - Symptoms

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