Hemochromatosis – Mechanism of Hemochromatosis, Types of Hemochromatosis


is a disorder caused by over absorption of iron during the digestion. It is the most common form of iron overload disease in which the intestines absorb more iron than they should normally do. In this article we give mechanism, types of hemochromatosis with its incidence in the United States.

Mechanism of Hemochromatosis:

Iron is an essential nutrient for the body. It is found abundant in foods such as red meat, iron-fortified breads and cereals. Iron has a vital role in body metabolism. It becomes part of hemoglobin, a molecule that transports oxygen from the lungs to other body tissues. Body has its own mechanism to absorb iron from the foods ingested.

Healthy body absorbs about


of the iron contained in the food. People with hemochromatosis absorb up to


of iron from the food. This abnormal absorption causes disturbances over time. Because the body do not have any natural way to get rid of the excess iron, it dumps it in body tissues, especially in the tissues of liver, heart and pancreas.

Types of Hemochromatosis:

There are 4 types of hemochromatosis:

  • Primary hemochromatosis:

    Hemochromatosis actually means primary hemochromatosis. It is a hereditary disorder. This is the most common form of iron overload disease.

  • Secondary hemochromatosis:

    This is caused by other disorders in the body such as anemia, alcoholism etc.

  • Juvenile hemochromatosis:

    It is a severe iron overload disorder that affects liver and heart. It is seen in adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 30.

  • Neonatal hemochromatosis:

    As the name suggests, this form of hemochromatosis is seen in babies and children. There is rapid buildup of iron in the baby’s liver, which can be fatal.


Hereditary hemochromatosis is one of the prevalent genetic disorders in the United States. According to one estimation, there are about one million people in the United States with this condition and almost one out of every 8 to 12 people is carrier of one abnormal gene. It is most often seen in Caucasians of Northern European descent, although other groups are also affected.

You can get more information about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of hemochromatosis in related articles on this site.

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