What Is Hereditary Hemochromatosis?
Hereditary hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that makes you absorb too much iron from your food without a way to get rid of it. This causes iron to build up in your body.
Small amounts of iron are vital for healthy blood and getting enough oxygen. But too much iron can be toxic.
Your doctor treats hereditary hemochromatosis by reducing the amount of iron stored in your body. Then treatment focuses on maintaining normal iron levels.
Hereditary hemochromatosis causes
Many genetic diseases, including hemochromatosis, occur when each parent gives their child the same genetic mutation. If only one parent passes on the gene for hereditary hemochromatosis, the child won't have it.
But the child will be a carrier.
If that child's future partner also carries the gene mutation that causes hereditary hemochromatosis, their children will have it.
Hereditary hemochromatosis risk factors and complications
Hereditary hemochromatosis occurs in 1 in 300 white Americans. Other races are less likely to have the disorder.
Men and women are equally likely to have hereditary hemochromatosis. But men are more likely to have complications, often at an earlier age.
About 1 in 10 men with hereditary hemochromatosis will develop severe liver disease.
You're at risk for hemochromatosis if your parents or siblings have the disease. Your doctor may urge genetic testing if you have a family history of it.
If you do have hemochromatosis, early treatment means you're less likely to have complications.
When too much iron builds up, many organs store excess iron.
Left undiagnosed or untreated, hereditary hemochromatosis can cause complications such as:
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Liver cancer
- Heart problems
Why Choose the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases for Hereditary Hemochromatosis Care?
Hereditary hemochromatosis is a lifelong condition that affects the liver. That's why you'll want to find a doctor with deep expertise in diseases of the liver.
Choosing the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases means your doctor will be up-to-date on the latest advancements in hereditary hemochromatosis.
The symptoms of hemochromatosis can mimic other conditions, so seek care promptly. That's the best way to receive a timely diagnosis so you can start treatment and reduce symptoms.