What causes high blood iron?

Normally, your body absorbs only the amount of iron it requires. With high blood iron, however, the body absorbs an abnormally large amount of iron from your diet, and this can result in serious complications. High blood iron is generally the result of a genetic defect or is acquired as a result of multiple blood transfusions.

Common causes of high blood iron

High blood iron may be caused by conditions or diseases including:

  • Juvenile hemochromatosis (a genetic mutation distinct from that of primary hemochromatosis)
  • Primary hemochromatosis (genetic mutation that causes increased iron absorption)
  • Secondary hemochromatosis (acquired disease)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of high blood iron

In diagnosing your condition, your health care provider will ask a series of questions related to your high blood iron including:

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?
  • Where do you feel your symptoms?
  • Is there a history of high blood iron or hemochromatosis in your family?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What, if anything, causes your symptoms to improve?
  • Does anything cause your symptoms to worsen?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your skin?
  • Are you taking any medications?

What are the potential complications of high blood iron?

The complications of high blood iron depend largely on the underlying cause and how quickly treatment is sought. When treated promptly, high blood iron poses far less risk of potential complications such as organ damage. A delay or interruption in your treatment, however, can result in permanent damage to your liver and other organs and other serious complications.

Once your health care provider has identified the underlying cause of your high blood iron, it is very important that you carefully follow the recommended treatment plan to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Heart disease, especially congestive heart failure
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure
  • Pancreatic disease, which can lead to diabetes


  1. Hemochromatosis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001368/.
  2. Hemochromatosis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hemochromatosis/.

What is high blood iron?

High blood iron is when your body’s iron level is too high. High blood iron is usually the result of hemochromatosis, a disease in which the body absorbs too much iron from the diet.

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What other symptoms might occur with high blood iron?

High blood iron may occur with other symptoms, which can vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with high blood iron

High blood iron may accompany other symptoms including:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 2, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation