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Hemochromatosis is a medical condition in which the patient has an iron overload. In particular, the modern usage of the term indicates that the excessive collection of iron is brought on by a metabolic disorder, or a genetic/primary cause. In some situations, though, it is used to refer to any type of iron overload.

Signs and symptoms

Various issues can be present in a patient with hemochromatosis. In some cases, cirrhosis occurs. Arthritis can also show up, due to iron deposits that occur in the joints. Hypopituitarism, in which there is a lowered secretion of at least one pituitary gland hormone, can also take place. Diabetes may also impact the patient. Cardiomyopathy is another possible condition that can affect the patient. This medical term means that there is a downturn in the function of the person's heart muscle.

Medical causes

As far as what leads to hemochromatosis, there are two forms: primary and secondary. The former is related to genetic causes, while the latter develops in the patient at some time. Secondary hemochromatosis can have various medical causes, such as getting excessive amounts of iron in the diet, chronic and severe hemolysis, and others.


A diagnosis of hemochromatosis is given by a doctor or other professional worker in medicine. There are various methods that can be used to check the level of iron in a patient. One such option is that the serum ferritin level can be tested. Another possibility is for a liver biopsy to be performed. One of the other methods that can be employed is the use of MRI technology.


After a diagnosis has been reached, then the doctor may prescribe a particular method of treatment. Getting iron in the patient down to a normal level is the desired goal. If hemochromatosis is left untreated, roughly one third of the time hepatocellular carcinoma will develop. This is a type of liver cancer.

You can read more about elevated liver enzymes in general, or specifically about other medical causes.

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