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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes haemochromatosis?

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  • 2


    Pennie is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who has been actively working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years. Pennie specialises in … View Profile

    Firstly, there are 2 types of Hemochromatosis, commonly known as “iron overload”:

    1. Primary Hemochromatosis which is a genetic disorder passed through families where the gene is present at birth and symptoms of Haemachromatosis can show later in life.
    2. Secondary Haemachromatosis (Acquired), this develops due to other blood-related disorders such as certain anaemias, thalassemia or after many blood transfusions.
    Those with haemachromatosis absorb too much iron which builds up and can deposit, especially in the liver. Haemachromatosis commonly affects more men than women.

    Treatment and managment to optimise iron levels and to remove excess iron (to prevent organ damage) can be acheived through:
    1. a process called Phlebotomy where 1/2 L of blood is removed from the body (similar to blood donation) the aim is to remove excess iron. The frequency is dependant on how high your levels of iron are and how well you respond to treatment. 
    2. Not taking iron supplements or vitamins containing iron
    3. Don't eat foods/drinks fortified with iron (ie fortified breakfast cereals or juice - that is with ADDED iron)
    4. Reduce or eliminate iron rich foods from the diet (including not cooking with iron cookware).
    Once identified haemachromatosis can be managed without further issues, however, untreated haemachromatosis can lead to liver damage. 

    Hope this helps
    All the best 

  • Dr Guang Chen


    Dr Guang Chen is a proud Chinese Australian gastroenterologist and hepatologist practising in Western Sydney. He then completed his post-graduate training in internal medicine, gastroenterology … View Profile

    Hemachromatosis is a state of iron overload. This can occur due to a genetic defect along the iron metabolism pathway (primary or hereditary) or processes/diseases leading to increased supplementary iron in the body (secondary).  

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