Some people with hereditary hemochromatosis never have symptoms. Early signs and symptoms often are nonspecific, mimicking those of other common conditions. Common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
First signs and symptoms of the disease in men are often from organ damage. They include:
- Joint pain
- Loss of sex drive (libido)
- Heart failure
When signs and symptoms typically appear
Although hereditary hemochromatosis is present at birth, most people don't experience signs and symptoms until later in life — usually between the ages of 50 and 60 in men and after age 60 in women. Women are more likely to develop symptoms after menopause, when they no longer lose iron with menstruation and pregnancy.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you experience any of the signs and symptoms of hereditary hemochromatosis. If you have an immediate family member who has hemochromatosis, ask your doctor about genetic tests that can determine if you have inherited the gene that increases your risk of hemochromatosis.
Feb. 18, 2015
- AskMayoExpert. Hereditary hemochromatosis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Bacon BR, et al. Diagnosis and management of hemochromatosis: 2011 Practice Guideline by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Hepatology. 2011;54:328.
- What is hemochromatosis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hemo/. Accessed Nov. 7, 2012.
- Eng KG, et al. Natural history and management of HFE-Hemochromatosis. Seminars in Liver Disease. 2011;31:293.
- Hemochromatosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hemochromatosis/index.htm. Accessed Nov. 12, 2012.
- Poterucha JJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 29, 2012.
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