Iron overload disorder
Haemochromatosis is caused by a genetic fault that can be passed on to a child by his or her parents.
Most cases are linked to a fault in a gene called HFE, which affects your ability to absorb iron from food.
Normally,your body maintains a steady level of iron. The amount of iron absorbed from food varies according toyour body's need for it.
But people with haemochromatosis can't control theiriron level.The level graduallyincreases over time and iron starts tobuild up in their organs, damaging them in the process.
Everyone receives two sets of genes one from their father and one from their mother. You're only at risk of haemochromatosis if you inherit the faulty HFE gene from both of your parents.
If you only inherit the faulty gene from one parent, you'll be at risk of passing it on to your children known as being a "carrier"but you won't develop haemochromatosis yourself.
In certain ethnic groups, such as peoplewith a Celtic background which is common in Ireland, Scotland and Walesit's quite common to be a carrier of the faulty HFE gene.
If two carriers have a baby, there's a:
But inheriting two copies of the genetic fault doesn't mean you'll definitely gethaemochromatosis.
Forunknown reasons, only a small proportion of people with two copies of the faulty HFE gene will ever develop the condition.
Find out about haemochromatosis, an inherited condition in which iron levels in the body slowly build up over many years.
Find out about the main symptoms of haemochromatosis and when to get medical advice.
Find out why haemochromatosis occurs and how it's passed on through families.
Find out who should get tested for haemochromatosis and how the condition is diagnosed.
Find out about the main treatments for haemochromatosis, including whether you should make any changes to your diet.
Find out about the further problems that can occur if haemochromatosis isn't diagnosed and treated early on.