Iron Overload (Hemochromatosis): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Iron overload or hemochromatosis is the presence of excess iron stores in the body. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a relatively common cause of the condition.

Signs and symptoms of hemochromatosis are related to buildup of iron stores in different parts of the body. Symptoms may go unnoticed in many people until adulthood. Signs and symptoms can include abnormal heart rhythms and damage to the heart muscle, reduced hormone production, liver scarring (cirrhosis), shrinkage of the testicles, impotence, and diabetes.

Cause of iron overload (hemochromatosis)

Hereditary hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder that follows an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. This means that a person has the possibility of developing iron overload only if the person inherits an abnormal gene from each parent.

Other iron overload (hemochromatosis) symptoms and signs

  • Abnormal Heart Rhythms
  • Damage to the Heart Muscle
  • Diabetes
  • Impotence
  • Liver Scarring (Cirrhosis)
  • Reduced Hormone Production
  • Testicular Shrinkage

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