Health A-Z

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The early symptoms of hemochromatosis vary a lot from person to person and are general symptoms that also occur in other conditions: They include:

  • Weakness

  • Weight loss

  • Joint pain

  • Abdominal pain

  • Heart palpitations

  • Shortness of breath

  • Irritability

  • Impotence

  • Depression

  • Loss of body hair

As the condition progresses, your skin may take on a bronze or yellowish color. The disease can lead to organ failure, especially liver failure (cirrhosis), which can cause confusion, bleeding, fluid accumulation in the legs and abdomen, black or bloody stools, and jaundice. Deposits of iron in the heart can cause heart failure or an irregular heartbeat. If the pancreas is involved, you also can develop diabetes, which can cause frequent urination and excessive thirst.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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