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Old 03-10-2008, 10:27 PM   #1
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Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

Hello, I hope someone can advise me

I recently had some blood work done, since feeling pressure near the area of my liver and burning pain through my shoulder and neck and horribly restless legs at night. The Doctor finally recommended the blood work. I believe they tested for ferritin levels, iron binding capacity and haemoglobin. The Doc calmly told me that my iron level was a "bit" low...4. Cough. From what I understand it should have been 12-15!
Looking back I realize I have had "all" the classic symtoms of anemia for several months now, yet he claimed I was "not" anemic, explaining that my low iron level was more or less sudden. My haemoglobin was around 126.
He recommended my taking an an iron supplement... that's it, nothing more, no questions, no other suggestions. I have visited this same Doctor many times with various aches and pains during the last couple of years. I have been having shortness of breath, aching muscles and joints after aerobics (which I had to stop doing 'cause it was more painful than anything else) restless legs, tinnitis, problems with concentration and memory and lightheadedness and so on, and now itchy, itchy skin everywhere. Thank-goodness I still have my hair.
Shouldn't he have been a little worried for me? Perhaps asked questions about my eating habits, if my periods were heavy etc.?
I know I don't eat properly. I asked him if he thought I could be bleeding internally and he said no. My stools have been a normal colour, not too dark or light.

An iron level of 4 sounds pretty serious doesn't it? Then why does my Doctor seem so unconcerned?

Just so I can understand this, the Ferritin level is the amount of iron stored in your body. Is that right?
Your iron level measures the amount of iron in the liquid part of your blood.
Is "iron binding capacity" the ability of iron to bind with red blood cells to carry oxygen?
My iron binding capacity (transferrin levels) is 74 is that good or bad?

Last edited by violette1; 03-11-2008 at 08:56 AM.

 
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:50 PM   #2
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

[QUOTE=violette1954;3481015]
An iron level of 4 sounds pretty serious doesn't it? Then why does my Doctor seem so unconcerned?

Just so I can understand this, the Ferritin level is the amount of iron stored in your body. Is that right?
Yes, the iron stores should be above 10 to be in range. 50-70-100 for health. I say that because doctors each give different numbers. My Hematologist said anything over 10 and under 1000???? I think to feel well (without symptoms) it would be at least 50 as someone else on this board recommended to me.


Your iron level measures the amount of iron in the liquid part of your blood.
This is Serum iron that measures the amount of iron that is in the blood system circulating at the time of the test.


Is "iron binding capacity" the ability of iron to bind with red blood cells to carry oxygen?
TIBC is the (Total Iron Binding Capacity) which measures the total amount of iron that transferrin (a protein) can bind to. This shows if there is too little or too much iron in the blood.

My iron binding capacity (transferrin levels) is 74 is that good or bad?
I'm not sure of that answer. My doctor does not go by these numbers. He goes by the CBC and Ferritin. The Ferritin give a much more accurate reading of the iron stores. FLFLOWERGIRL

 
Old 03-12-2008, 09:02 AM   #3
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

Thanks Flowergirl for responding.. I've read many of your replies to people. I tend to be such a worry wart. It would be nice if somewhere on the web there was a comparative chart for Canadian, US, UK measurements, as yet I haven't found one.
I understand why the Doc said i was not anemic. My iron levels would have to be at 0 to have full blown anemia, is that right?

Last edited by violette1; 03-12-2008 at 09:06 AM.

 
Old 03-12-2008, 02:29 PM   #4
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

No, your ferritin does not need to be at 0 to get anemia. Mine was at 5 when I became anemic.

Yesterday, my best friend just got the results of her tests. She had been feeling "off" for awhile. Her symptoms were so much like mine that I urged her to go in and get bloodwork. She does not have anemia but her ferritin is at 3. I can't wait until she gets her labwork because I am betting that her hematocrit and hemoglobin are probably VERY close to the lower limits.

 
Old 03-12-2008, 03:29 PM   #5
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

violette54--Hi, thanks for reading my babble!

I have no idea about the different ranges. Maybe someone from Canada can answer that for you. I think that they have before.

I don't know what number (your ferritin/iron stores would be) for you to be anemic. It seems that everyone is at a different number when this happens. For me I was a 2 Ferritin with a 8.5 Hgb, this number should be 12 and up to be within range and non anemic. Ask your doctor what the number is for you to be considered anemic. So, you can see from my numbers this went on for a long time before I caught on to what was happening to me, hence the lowered Hemoglobin which is now 14.1 it has almost doubled. The end stage of the fallen iron stores is IDA iron deficiency anemia.

At first the Hgb in the (CBC) complete blood count has to try to keep up by pulling from the ferritin stores and the Hgb slowly lowers and the body adjusts to this and you usually don't feel it until the anemia sets in. When it happens from an acute blood loss it is much more profound. FLFLOWERGIRL

 
Old 03-13-2008, 08:11 AM   #6
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Venting...

I'm surprised that my Physician didn't order a ferritin test as well. I see that some people are posting about serum iron and ferritin levels, two different things correct? Do they reflect each other in any way?
The thing that bugs me the most is my Doc's casual attitude towards the whole business.
Initially it was about my shortness of breath, he sends me to an allergist. It seems I'm "mildly" allergic to cats.
No symptoms of real asthma, yet I'm always short of breath.
About 6 months ago I had gone to him complaining of aching pain and stiffness in my muscles and joints minutes after doing aerobics. He said it was because I was out of shape, ditto the shortness of breath. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough...shrugs.
My blood pressure is up and down, mostly up and he says that's nothing to worry about either and that it's quite common. What's wrong with this guy? He did send me to an Allergist (for the shortness of breath) an Ear Nose and Throat specialist for possible sleep apnea, that was a joke.
I had a colon screening recently and an esophageal dilation (difficulty swallowing) 2- 1/2 years ago. These tests showed nothing out of whack. I tell on him on previous visit I have serious trouble sleeping and he asks "why do you have trouble sleeping?"
I tell him on this last visit that my skin is itchy everywhere on my body (head to toe). Guess what he says... "well there could be some additive in the vitamins you are taking that is causing the itching."
Seriously, I am so fed up with this guy, I tend to go to a medi-clinic rather than see him unless it's absolutely necessary ie. certain prescriptions or blood work and x-rays.

I've had the feeling that he thinks I'm neurotic and looking for attention. I have been worried that maybe these symptoms ARE psychosomatic.
So you can imagine how relieved I am to find out that there is a physical cause for my (put all symptoms of low iron here) and that I'm not whacked. But what I am..is cheezed off at his ineffectiveness as a Doctor.


My question at this point is why does he say my low iron has come on suddenly? What does that mean?

Last edited by violette1; 03-13-2008 at 08:12 AM.

 
Old 03-13-2008, 10:46 AM   #7
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

Does Beta Thalassemia run in your family? Maybe you are a carrier. I know that doctors say there are NO Symptoms, but, then again, many of them do not have it. People go for most of there lives with symptoms that dr.s can't explain, and find out in their mid-late 40s that they have BTM or 'the trait'. Many times the family members who pass it on do not know that they were even carriers. It's not a disorder that sticks to one type of people. (migration and inner-cultural marrages) You just have to ask to get THAT test. Doctors seem to tell themselves that if you look white/black then there is no reason to suspect that a person may have. It's passed on through genes. The only thing that sees color is human eyes. If just 1 parent is a carrier and 1 parent is normal, than the child has a 50% chance of have the trait (being a carrier). That child does not have a chance of being born with the disease. Like sickle cell. I don't know, I think it may be worth looking into.

 
Old 03-13-2008, 11:41 AM   #8
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

Chicken22 ...Thanks for the suggestion. I will do a search on it. I don't know if any member of my family has had Beta Thalessemia or if they have ever been tested.

 
Old 03-13-2008, 04:17 PM   #9
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

I work for a dermatologist and he often dictates in his letters that itchy skin can be a sign of iron deficiency. So it's probably not psychosomatic.

 
Old 03-14-2008, 08:09 AM   #10
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Re: Iron deficiency and itchy skin

Trixibel...

Thanks, I know and you know. I've been taking iron supplements for two weeks now and already feel alot better, not perfect, but more like my old self again. The itchness has gone for the most part. After doing some research, I have found that the itchy skin maybe be more common with us "older" folks I'm 53.
Sadly, my Doctor seems to pooh pooh away every symptom I have had thus far. My advice to everyone is to rely on your inner instincts. We know when something is just right.
I'm going to shop around for a new Physician even though I have been with this guy for over 15 years. Each visit to his office has only made me more frustrated and angry.

Thanks so much everyone for your input and suggestions. You've been a great help.

Last edited by violette1; 03-14-2008 at 08:10 AM.

 
Old 03-16-2008, 02:07 PM   #11
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More venting...

Quote:
Originally Posted by violette1954 View Post
I'm surprised that my Physician didn't order a ferritin test as well. I see that some people are posting about serum iron and ferritin levels, two different things correct? Do they reflect each other in any way?
The thing that bugs me the most is my Doc's casual attitude towards the whole business.
Initially it was about my shortness of breath, he sends me to an allergist. It seems I'm "mildly" allergic to cats.
No symptoms of real asthma, yet I'm always short of breath.
About 6 months ago I had gone to him complaining of aching pain and stiffness in my muscles and joints minutes after doing aerobics. He said it was because I was out of shape, ditto the shortness of breath. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough...shrugs.
My blood pressure is up and down, mostly up and he says that's nothing to worry about either and that it's quite common. What's wrong with this guy? He did send me to an Allergist (for the shortness of breath) an Ear Nose and Throat specialist for possible sleep apnea, that was a joke.
I had a colon screening recently and an esophageal dilation (difficulty swallowing) 2- 1/2 years ago. These tests showed nothing out of whack. I tell on him on previous visit I have serious trouble sleeping and he asks "why do you have trouble sleeping?"
I tell him on this last visit that my skin is itchy everywhere on my body (head to toe). Guess what he says... "well there could be some additive in the vitamins you are taking that is causing the itching."
Seriously, I am so fed up with this guy, I tend to go to a medi-clinic rather than see him unless it's absolutely necessary ie. certain prescriptions or blood work and x-rays.

I've had the feeling that he thinks I'm neurotic and looking for attention. I have been worried that maybe these symptoms ARE psychosomatic.
So you can imagine how relieved I am to find out that there is a physical cause for my (put all symptoms of low iron here) and that I'm not whacked. But what I am..is cheezed off at his ineffectiveness as a Doctor.


My question at this point is why does he say my low iron has come on suddenly? What does that mean?
I am going though exactly the same thing as you are right now. You are not crazy!!! I was called into the doctor's office after routine bloodwork revealed that I was anemic. I was feeling pretty rotten at the time (tired, dizzy, ears ringing, lightheaded, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, aching in joints, etc.).

I took iron for a few months and felt no change. When I went back to the doctor for follow-up she said my hemoglobin was normal but my ferritin was pretty much at 0. When I mentioned that I was not feeling any better, she told me that an extremely low ferritin would not make me feel sick (even though I have found much evidence to the contrary), to stop taking the iron, and that my problems must all be mental! She very causal about the whole thing and also implied that I was being neurotic.

If you did not mention "he" when talking about your doctor, I would have been sure we were seeing the same one! My doctor said it is "normal" for women to be anemic and said she "assumed" mine was caused by "heavy periods" (which I do not have) and did not order one test to determine the cause of my anemia. Were you sick at all recently? My anemia seemed to come on after a long bout of strep throat last year - before that all my bloodwork was normal (I think).

P.S. serum iron is the amount of iron that is stored in your blood, and ferritin is is a protein found inside cells that stores iron so your body can use it later. When your body is depleted of serum iron (through blood loss, illness, etc.) it has to pull from the ferritin or iron stores. If the ferritin is depleted, you become anemic.

P.P.S. In Canada, our hemoglobin numbers ARE a little different. In women, normal hemoglobin ranges from 120 g/L to 160 g/L (12.0 g/dL to 16.0 g/dL). In men, normal hemoglobin levels range from 140 g/L to 180 g/L (14.0 g/dL to 18.0 g/dL). So your hemoglobin of 126 was on the low end of normal.

Last edited by nikki888; 03-16-2008 at 02:11 PM.

 
Old 03-27-2008, 11:30 AM   #12
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Re: More venting...

Hi Nikki888 thanks for the reply. I finally got back to reading these posts.

To answer your question, no I can't remember being sick and my Doc is male, so I can't blame the gender..smiles.. It sad that many Doctors are so lackadaisical when it comes to treating "some" of their patients. He's always been this way and that's why I tend to go to a "clinic" when I need things taken care of right away. Seriously I know my Doc has issues with female patients. PLUS he didn't even say.."come back in a couple of months and we'll do the bloodwork again " ***? is with that? (pardon my French) Thanks for the clarification on ferritin and hemoglobin. I understand now why he said that "my iron was a bit low" but I wasn't anemic (did he think he was being funny? Do iron supplements make you feel nauseous?

PS It's been a month, I still feel crappy and I hate it so much.

 
Old 04-24-2008, 06:51 PM   #13
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

violette- I sure hope you are still posting. I have a Ferritin of 12 and have all the symptoms you have. What have you found out? I am still searching for answers and your story sounds just like mine.

 
Old 05-03-2008, 05:20 PM   #14
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

Hi, everyone,
I know that this may sound like a silly question, but how do you find out if you are anemic and b12 deficient? I have been sick for 14 months now. I have alot of the symptoms that you all list. I have actually switched family doctors because I feel like we are getting no where with this. But I also have intermittent high calcium. Does anyone have that too, in addition to the b12 deficiency and anemia?
My new doctor mentioned the other day that it was possible that I had a b12 deficiency and was anemic by my symptoms, but she never ordered any blood tests, so I am not sure what to order if I do from an independent lab.
thanks for your help,
mmee

 
Old 05-03-2008, 07:59 PM   #15
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Re: Iron level at 4 but not anemic? I don't get it.

Ask your Dr. for a ferritin and b12 test blood test. Make sure to get the lab results. Alot of times Dr's will say you are normal even though you are low normal. You can still have terrible symptoms in the low range. My calcium was fine. look it up on the computer. You will find alot of info. good luck. What are your symptoms?

 
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