(Hereditary Hemochromatosis [HH]; Primary Hemochromatosis; Familial Hemochromatosis; Secondary Hemochromatosis)
How to Say It: He-moe-chrome-uh-toe-sis
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Hemochromatosis is a disorder where iron builds up in the body. Early treatment can improve outcomes.
There are two types:
Hereditary hemochromatosis is caused by a faulty gene that is passed from parents to children.
The secondary type may be caused by:
Things that may raise the risk of HH are:
Things that may raise the risk of the secondary type are:
Most people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done to check iron levels. This is enough to make the diagnosis. More tests may be done to look for a cause.
The goal of treatment is to lower iron levels. Choices are:
HH cannot be prevented. The secondary type may be prevented. It depends on the cause.
American Hemochromatosis Society
American Society of Hematology
Canadian Liver Foundation
Hemochromatosis. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diseases-of-the-liver/hemochromatosis. Accessed Jamuary 12, 2021.
Hemochromatosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hemochromatosis. Accessed January 12, 2021.
Hemochromatosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
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Accessed January 12, 2021.
Pilling L, Tamosauskaite J. Common conditions associated with hereditary haemochromatosis genetic variants: cohort study in UK Biobank BMJ 2019; 364.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/12/2021