Hereditary hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that alters the body's way of absorbing iron. It causes the body to absorbe too much iron, since the mechanism that regulates the absorption does not function properly.
This disorder is caused when a child inherits two mutated genes, one from each of it's parents.
Hemochromatosis has several symptoms. The earliest ones include: joint pain, weakness, lack of energy, fatigue, pain in the abdomen, shortness of breath, high blood sugar, hypothyroidism, and the darkening of the skin. Later, there are more advanced symptoms such as arthritis, abnormal pigmentation, and damage to the adrenal glands.
Gene tests can test for hemochromatosis, as well as blood tests to measure the saturation of the protein carrying the iron.
Unlike several genetic disorders, hemochromatosis can be treated very easily. Blood is removed from the patient, which lowers the amount of iron in the blood. The patient must do this frequently to keep the blood like this.
If untreated, the disease can cause severe organ damge.
People who carry single mutated genes have little to no side effects.
Not all people with two mutated genes contract hemochromatosis.