Hereditary Hemochromatosis is an inherited disease which causes the body to absorb and store too much iron. This excess iron is stored throughout the body, but particularly in the liver, skin and pancreas. When this iron is stored, the iron damages these organs and tissues.
HH is caused by mutations found in the HFE gene. This genes responsibility is to control the iron absorption from the diet. When a person inherits the defective gene from both parents, he or she will develop Hereditary Hemochromatosis. If a person in inherits the defective genre from one parent and not the other, this person is a considered a HH carrier. HH carriers do have a slight increase in their absorption of iron.
Most people who have HH have no symptoms of the disorder until they reach middle age. This is because the body only absorbs a small amount more then what it needs every day. This takes time to build up and cause symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms of HH are bronzing or a grey appearance in the skin. The symptoms are painful joints, diabetes, liver disorders and a weakened cardiovascular system. Other signs of Hereditary Hemochromatosis include diminished sex drive, early menopause, thyroid and adrenal disorders and fatigue.