What are some signs of hereditary hemochromatosis?
The signs and symptoms of hereditary hemochromatosis are different from person to person. Men are more likely to have symptoms than women. Although you are born with it, most people who have hereditary hemochromatosis show no symptoms of the illness until they are middle-aged. Symptoms can also change depending on the amount of iron in your diet or if you are taking iron pills or drinking alcohol.
Early symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, joint pain or impotence. For women, abnormal periods or early menopause also can be a sign.
People who have a very high iron levels may have skin with a bronze or gray color. Their lab tests may be abnormal. Their livers may get bigger or may become damaged and they may develop cirrhosis -- permanent and extensive scarring in the liver. Other signs of hereditary hemochromatosis include diabetes and heart problems.
Recognition and Management of Hereditary Hemochromatosis by DJ Brandhagen, VF Fairbanks, W Baldus (American Family Physician March 01, 2002, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020301/853.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff