Symptoms of Hemochromatosis

Chronic fatigue and joint pain are the most common complaints of people with hemochromatosis. For this reason, the complete diagnosis is often delayed because these two symptoms are commonly seen in other diseases. Pain in the knuckles of the pointer and middle finger, collectively called “The Iron Fist,” is the only sign or symptom specific to hemochromatosis. However, not everyone with HHC experiences the Iron Fist.

Patients often complain of the following: 

Some complain of the following symptoms, although these indicators are not always specific to hemochromatosis:

  • Lack of energy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Memory fog 
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Heart flutters 
  • Irregular heart beat 

When symptoms are associated with hemochromatosis, these usually begin in men in their late 20’s to early 30’s. In women, symptoms usually start about 10-15 years after they stop having a period due to menopause, birth control pills, or hysterectomy. Consider using our Symptoms Log to monitor your symptoms of hemochromatosis.

DISEASES THAT CAN DEVELOP IF LEFT UNTREATED

  • Bone and joint: osteoarthritis or osteoporosis in knuckles, ankles, and hips
  • Liver: enlarged liver, cirrhosis, cancer, and liver failure diabetes
  • Skin: abnormal color (bronze, reddish or ashen-gray)
  • Heart: irregular heartbeat, enlarged heart, congestive heart failure
  • Endocrine: diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, (infertility, impotence), hormone imbalances
  • Spleen: enlarged spleen

Hemochromatosis can be overlooked by a doctor who is concentrating on treatment of diseases that are present in the patient. Many doctors still believe what they learned in medical school – that hemochromatosis is rare and only happens in older men. When hemochromatosis is discovered early and treated before organ damage can occur, a person can live a normal, healthy life. Any family practice physician is qualified to diagnose and order treatment for a hemochromatosis patient. 

PHYSICIANS WHO CAN HELP DIAGNOSE HEMOCHROMATOSIS

If there are complications with diseased organs, the patient might need to see a specialist:

  • Cardiologist
  • Endocrinologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Gynecologist
  • Hematologist/Oncologist
  • Hepatologist
  • Internist
  • Rheumatologist
  • Urologist
  • Psychiatrist