Hemochromatosis

What Is It?

Hemochromatosis is a common genetic (inherited) disorder in which too much iron is absorbed from the digestive tract. This excess iron is deposited in the tissues and organs of the body, where it can become toxic and cause damage.

Hemochromatosis occurs most often in people of northern European ancestry, especially those of Scottish, Irish or English descent, and affects up to 1 in 200 people in the United States. Hemochromatosis most commonly is diagnosed in people between ages 40 and 60. In women, it usually is diagnosed after menopause.

Symptoms

The early symptoms of hemochromatosis vary a lot from person to person and are general symptoms that also occur in other conditions: They include:

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