What is the prognosis of Hemochromatosis?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 17, 2014
Quick Bites

  • Leads to excess Iron.
  • May be harmful for organs and joints.
  • Can be treated.
  • May cause organ failure.

Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder which leads to access amount of iron in the body. The condition causes the body to get more than normal amount of iron from the diet. Since the condition requires proper treatment, the prognosis of the problem plays a crucial role in treating the problem.

excess of iron

Organs, especially liver and joints store the iron absorbed from the diet. Excessive quantities of iron during hemochromatosis can make the liver and other organs get enlarged which may even cause damage. Since the body has no natural mechanism available to get rid of such excessive iron, the body stores it in body tissues, especially those in the organs which can be harmful for the organs.

The condition, inherited from family through genes, involves a gene which is not working properly. However it occurs only if both the copies of the gene are abnormal. The HFE gene is the most common gene involved in causing hemochromatosis. Now recognized as one of the most common genetic disorders, haemochromatosis occurs in people from all parts of the world.

Types Of hemochromatosis

There are two types of hemochromatosis: primary hemochromatosis and secondary hemochromatosis.

Primary hemochromatosis:

It is a genetic disorder inherited from family. People with this condition absorb too much iron through their digestive tract leading to builds up of excessive iron in the organs, especially the liver.

Secondary hemochromatosis:

It is caused by other blood-related disorders such as thalassemia or certain anemia’s or blood transfusions.


Not everyone with the disorder has symptoms, however joint pain, fatigue, general weakness, weight loss, and stomach pain, are the most common symptoms of the condition.


The degree of damage done to an organ, especially in the liver, is very crucial for the prognosis of the disorder. Patients who have the disorder along with severe liver tissue scarring and diabetes appear to have a shorter life expectancy.  In other cases the life expectancy is normal. Conditions such as tiredness, initial signs of liver disease, skin pigmentation, upper stomach pain and virility problems are alleviated by bloodletting.


Extra iron may also build up in other areas of the body, including the thyroid gland, testicles, pancreas, pituitary gland, heart, or joints. Early treatment can help prevent complications such as liver disease, heart disease, arthritis or diabetes, liver cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer. It may also lead to increased risk for certain bacterial infections.

Image Courtesy: Getty

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