Haemochromatosis is an hereditary disorder of iron regulation in which excess iron is absorbed from the intestinal tract.

In haemochromatosis iron accumulates in tissues throughout the body including the liver, pancreas, heart and joints and can lead to symptoms and signs including joint pains, skin pigmentation, liver damage, heart failure, diabetes and sexual dysfunction.

However, about 75% of people with haemochromatosis are diagnosed before they have symptoms or complications. It is important to diagnose this condition as early treatment can help prevent all complications. Evaluation include blood tests showing increased iron levels and genetic tests. Treatment consists of the removal of excessive iron from the body by repeated removal of a fixed amount of blood (therapeutic phlebotomy). This is very like repeated blood donations and is carried out at the blood donor centre.

For further information click here or visit the Gastroenterological Society of Australia