Haemochromatosis is a genetically inherited condition where the body cannot get rid of excess iron. Excess iron is then stored in organs and soft tissue. If left untreated this can damage the body leading to an increased risk of cancer or organ failure. 

Despite it being the most common genetically inherited condition many people are unaware of is existence and affects. Haemochromatosis affects approximately 1 in 150 people.

Haemochromatosis Awareness Week aims to raise knowledge of the condition, promote testing and the support options available from healthcare professionals.


Not everyone who has genetic Haemochromatosis will develop symptoms. Even those with symptoms can be affected in different ways.

Men are more likely than women to develop organ damage and it can take many years for iron build up to damaging levels in the body.  People are often unaware that Haemochromatosis is in their family genetics and detection is identified during blood tests that are undertaken for other health conditions or monitoring.

Diagnosed early, Haemochromatosis is manageable and not life-limiting. The most common treatment is regular venesection (“blood donation”).


Common symptoms of Haemochromatosis include:

  • Tiredness, fatigue or weakness.
  • Joint pain.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Stomach pain or discomfort.

Other symptoms of Haemochromatosis may include:

  • Skin itchiness, rashes or ‘bronzing’ of the skin.
  • Heart problems including irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath.
  • Loss if sex drive or menstrual problems in women.
  • Diabetes.

Managing and treatment

Once genetic haemochromatosis is diagnosed, then your healthcare professional will arrange a plan of treatment. This could include venesection, regular blood tests and Fibroscan (to check your liver health and detect any early signs of liver damage).

Ongoing regular appointments with healthcare professionals will ensure that your haemochromatosis is being managed for your individual needs.

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