Symptoms of haemochromatosis usually begin between the ages of30 and 60, although they can occasionally occur earlier.

The symptomstend to develop earlier in men than inwomen.Women often don't experience problems until after the Testosterone deficiency (hypogonadism) .

Sometimes there are no symptoms and the condition is only found during a blood test .

Early symptoms

Initial symptoms of haemochromatosis caninclude:

  • feeling verytired all the time (fatigue)
  • weight loss
  • weakness
  • joint pain
  • in men, aninability to get or maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • in women, irregular periods or absent periods

These symptoms can have many different causes and may sometimes just be put down to getting older.

Later problems

As the condition progresses, it can also cause problems such as:

  • loss of sexdrive (libido)
  • darkening of the skin you may look permanently tanned
  • tummy (abdominal) pain andswelling
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • feeling thirsty all the time and needing to pee frequently
  • severe pain and stiffness in your joints, particularly in thefingers
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of your hands and feet
  • an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • in men, the testicles getting smaller

These problems areoftencaused by complications of haemochromatosis that can occur if the condition isn't treated early on.

When to see your GP

See your GP if you have:

  • persistent or worrying symptoms that could be caused by haemochromatosis particularly if you have a northern European family background, as the condition is most common in this group
  • a parent or sibling with haemochromatosis, even if you don't have symptoms yourself tests can be done to checkif you're at risk of developing problems

Talk to your GP about whether you should have blood tests to check for haemochromatosis.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 8 Nov 2016