What are the Symptoms?

Early symptoms of iron overload such as fatigue (in 70%), joint pain (40%) and abdominal pain (40%) are non-specific and are commonly not recognised as associated with Haemochromatosis. Moreover, mildly abnormal liver function tests are commonly ascribed to excessive alcohol use. A genetic test, together with iron status, can provide a definitive diagnosis of HH without the necessity of an invasive liver biopsy.

- Chronic fatigue, weakness, lethargy
- Arthritis – all joints but particularly between the knuckles of the 1st & 2nd finger (iron fist); knees and hips
     – often misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis
- Liver disorders - cirrhosis and enlarged live
- Late-onset diabetes(due to damage to the pancreas)
- Sexual disorders - impotence, loss of libido, testicular atrophy, infertility
- Menstrual irregularities (particularly amenorrhea)
- Abdominal pain (particularly upper right-quadrant)
- Neurological disorders - mood swings, depression, impaired memory
- Cardiomyopathy (disease of heart muscle) - irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart failure
- Loss of body hair
- Hypothyroidism
- Cancer (it thrives on iron)
- Bronzing/ greying of the skin (permanent tan)
- Frequent (unexplained) diarrhoea
- Frequent colds/flu, weakened immune system

Also frequently misdiagnosed as chronic hepatitis, gall bladder and thyroid problems, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, polycythaemia and iron deficiency. As some sufferers exhibit pronounced mood swings and other personality changes such as severe depression, anger, confusion or diminished memory, they can be incorrectly treated for mental illness. In some cases Alzheimer’s has been suspected.