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Training & Education - Clinical Features


Clinical expression
  • The iron accumulation rate and the frequency and severity of clinical symptoms vary widely and may be dependent on factors such as age, gender, and diet.
Early stages
  • The most commonly associated early hemochromatosis symptoms are non-specific and may include:
    • Fatigue.
    • Weakness.
    • Weight loss.
    • Abdominal pain.
    • Arthralgia.
  • As iron accumulation progresses, patients may also experience:
    • Arthritis.
    • Symptoms of gonadal failure.
      • For example, amenorrhea, early menopause, loss of libido, impotence.
    • Shortness of breath/dyspnea.
  • Maintain a high index of suspicion of hemochromatosis for patients with early signs or symptoms of this disease.
Advanced stages
  • Iron accumulates in the parenchymal cells of several organs; the liver is a major site followed by the heart and pancreas.
  • The liver is usually the first organ to be affected, but signs of organ damage occur in the later stages of the disease.
Primary Disorders Associated with Advanced Hemochromatosis
  • Most advanced hemochromatosis complications are also common primary disorders.
  • A hemochromatosis diagnosis can be missed even in advanced stages unless looked for specifically.

Test Your Knowledge

This is an optional self-quiz and is not required for continuing education credit.

Select the best answers below. If you need help, feel free to go back to Clinical Expression and review.

Question 1: Which of the following patient presentations might prompt you to consider hemochromatosis?

Select the best answer(s) below:
An older, thin person with recent onset of diabetes and no family history of diabetes.
A young person with pain in the second and third metacarpal joints.
A middle-aged person with nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, arthralgia, and weakness who has had numerous office visits.

Question 2: As iron accumulation progresses, patients may experience loss of libido and impotence.