Hemochromatosis, often referred to as hereditary hemochromatosis, is an inherited condition that causes your body to absorb too much iron from the foods you consume. This build-up of iron over time can cause quite unpleasant symptoms, from fatigue to joint pain.

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Hereditary hemochromatosis symptoms

According to Mayo Clinic, it’s possible for people with hereditary hemochromatosis to experience little to no symptoms [1]. Although, if symptoms do appear, they tend to include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness

Hereditary hemochromatosis causes

As the name suggests, hemochromatosis is passed on from parents to their children. It’s essentially a mutation in the gene that controls how the body absorbs iron from your diet. Although this is the most common cause, there are two other noteworthy causes [2]:

  • Excessive iron in the diet
  • Multiple blood transfusions

How serious is hemochromatosis?

Hemochromatosis can cause complications if it goes untreated as iron will begin to build up in the body. These problems usually occur in the joint area and sometimes in organs such as the liver or pancreas.

Some complications associated with untreated hemochromatosis include:

  • Liver damage
  • Heart problems
  • Low libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pancrease damage
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes

Can you suddenly develop hemochromatosis?

While hereditary hemochromatosis is passed on from parents to their children, it is possible to also develop the condition - and not as a result of a genetic mutation.

Neonatal hemochromatosis

During neonatal hemochromatosis, iron builds up in the liver of the fetus. Although the exact cause is unknown, according to the National Institutes of Health, it may be a result of the woman’s immune system recognizing the baby’s liver as foreign [2].

Secondary hemochromatosis

This form of hemochromatosis is sometimes referred to as iron overload. It can occur when there is excessive iron in someone's diet or they have had multiple blood transfusions.

One of the most reliable ways to know more about your iron levels is through regular testing. This can be done by taking a visit to your doctor or from the comfort of your own home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Iron Test can identify iron deficiencies in your body with online results available within 5 days. You should consider taking the test if:

  • You are suffering from an iron deficiency
  • You are suffering from hemochromatosis
  • You are vegetarian
  • You frequently donate blood
  • You are suffering from fatigue, low energy or low mood
  • You have a family history of hemochromatosis
  • You are from Northern Europe, you are more likely to suffer from hemochromatosis

See also: How do you Check Iron Levels From Home?

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Hemochromatosis. Online: Mayoclinic,org, 2020
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Hemochromatosis. Online: Niddk.nih.gov, 2020