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what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

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Old 08-25-2008, 07:57 PM   #1
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littleopihi HB User
what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

Hi all! I am visiting from the hair problems board... my hair started to fall out in fits and bursts 2 years ago. at that time my ferritin level was 60. 5 months later it was 40... at that time the hair loss was horrible! since then ( a year a half later) i managed to get my ferritin to 70 this past march and my hair loss was better (less than 50 hairs a day) but it had been so long i didn't remember what normal was. but i stopped taking my prenatal vits with iron and the doctor took me off bcp in june and at that time my ferritin was 80 =) ... but in july my hair started falling out like crazy!!! so i had to have more tests a week ago in which they checked my thyroid, etc... and i, as an aside, asked her to check my ferritin again even tho she was hesitant because it was okay... but she did... i'm not happy at all =( but here are the rest of the results:

ferritin: 43
thyroid antibodies: neg
tsh: 2.75 (0.35-5.5)
freet4: 1.0 (0.9-1.8)
wbc: 6.1 (4.6-10.8)
rbc: 4.3 (3.8-5.4)
hgb: 13.8 (11.4-16)
hct: 40 (34.2-47)
iron: 85 (40-150)
transferrin: 313 (212-360)
iron sats: 20.6 (15-50&#37

i should say that i have also been VERY tired even after 9 hours of sleep every night... and i have crappy maigraines =( i just don't know what to do and i'm not sure why my ferritin keeps dropping even tho my periods aren't super heavy approx 3-4 days heavy for 1-2... i can attribute some of the hair sheds to the stopping of the bcp... do any of you have any thoughts i would SO SO SO appreciate them... thank you so much.

Last edited by littleopihi; 08-25-2008 at 07:58 PM. Reason: incorrect number

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Old 08-26-2008, 07:18 PM   #2
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Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

What does your doctor think? THat is a level of ferritin which would cause hair loss. THat is mostly what brought me to the doctor... I have an inch thick of hair in my brush every time I brush... I lose hair all over my floors and furniture. Last checked, my ferritin was a started at a 1. Heavy periods is a reason for low ferritin. I have pretty heavy periods, but only every three montsh or so. I have other hormone issues which cause irregular periods.

Aside from that, you could be bleeding somewhere else in your body. SOmetimes people with ulcers bleed internally and don't know it. If your ferritin isnt going up with iron suplementation then something is off. Many people with iron issues take supplemetns for life. Even when things are back to normal, you are more susceptible to levels falling again...

Talk to the doc about colonoscopy and/or endoscopy

Old 08-26-2008, 07:28 PM   #3
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Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

Have you had any stomach or intestinal surgeries in the past? Sometimes our bodies are not equipped to be able to absorb the nutrients that we need. If they don't find any internal bleeding anywhereI would see if there is a way to tell if you are absorbing normally.

As a side note about the migraines though...when i was at my lowest my ferritin level was a 1 and my hemoglobin a 5. I ended up getting 3 units of blood transfused and now my migraines are almost gone or at least compared to what they were! I have had headaches and migraines nonstop for years so I just could not beleive the difference that it made!

Old 08-27-2008, 08:52 PM   #4
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Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

Hi littleopihi - i left you a reply over on the hair board earlier on, but thought i'd do a shorter reply here.

Basically low ferretin and hair shedding when there is so called 'no apparent reason' according to doctors is a real mystery and a lot of people on these boards would love to find the answer.

Even though your periods aren't always heavy, only every few months, is your doctor concerned about that at all?

Are you on the pill and could it be the wrong type of pill, meaning could it be stuffing up your hormones. Not everybody can just go ahead and take any form of the pill.

Gluten intolerance and malabsorption of nutrients are 2 other things which can be silent hair and health killers. Most doctors dont even test for these things.

Could it be PCOS or endometriosis related?

When getting hormones tested and being on the pill at the same time your results can be slightly untrue. If hair and health is a priority then i'd look at a different form of birth control and go off the pill, let your hormones settle, then get a full hormone test done. This test should be done in the morning and not afternoon.

With a ferretin even at 43 you shouldn't be chronically tired, but all of us are individual. Sometimes it's not even tiredness related to ferretin, but to your adrenals. They should check your cortisol levels, which is the hormone produced by your adrenals. Some people will suffer adrenal fatigue and not have any thyroid problems.

Your TSH is a little elevated, but i highly doubt they would medicate it at that level. They usually wait till it's much higher, but looking at where you are at now it is getting closer towards the higher end of the range. There are a few expert doctors around the world who believe that anybody who has a TSH over 2.00 should begin medication, but most doctors dont believe that. TSH can also rise and fall. Have you ever had your TSH tested before and if so, have you kept copies of your results? It's good to keep results as you can keep an eye on how you progress. My TSH would be up down, up down. At least they did the antibodies testing. I'm not sure about your T4 as that lab range is unfamiliar to me. Maybe somebody over on the thyroid board can help you with that.

The only other suggestions would be like the previous 2 posters recommended, internal bleeding via polyps or ulcers.

Old 09-08-2008, 07:30 PM   #5
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GregB777 HB User
Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

Hi Little--

A few things from my experience:

A ferritin below 60 is associated with hair loss.

Yours went from 70 to 43 in a few months. My experience has been that my ferritin only drops like that so much so quickly after I have donated a pint of blood. So, I concur that you should speak to your doctor about looking for internal sources of bleeding.

How is your diet? Do you eat red meat? You might consider eating low fat, high iron meat every day for a while to see how it goes. Cow liver is especially high in iron. Other meats are high in iron but low in fat-- particularly ostrich, which is low in fat and cholesterol but high in iron--- it tastes like a lean cut of beef, and looks like that, too.

One thing that really helped me with fatigue and lethargy was to increase my intake of magnesium. I found that when I changed the ratio of calcium to magnesium intake to be closer to 1:1 my fatigue and insomnia gradually disappeared. I found a particular brand of magnesium citrate to work fastest for me. (Moderator: According to your rules, I am allowed to mention a name brand once, so here is it: Natural Calm by Peter Gillham.) I found that if I took in too much calcium and not enough magnesium, I got insomnia, stress and fatigue. Upping Mg intake worked for me, anyway.

Good luck.

Old 09-08-2008, 08:01 PM   #6
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Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

Yeah, I agree. I would be looking into adrenal and thyroid issues at this point. (your TSH is even higher than mine, and I suspect a thyroid or adrenal issue for my problems and low iron).

Old 09-09-2008, 12:32 AM   #7
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littleopihi HB User
Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

thank you all SO SO SO much!! i really appreciate your thoughts... i've come to realize that i don't think at this point my thyroid is the issue my adreanals may be... my iron absolutely and my vitamin D no doubt! my doctor has me taking iron and i've also started yellow dock only when i have my period. she also put me on vitamin D perscribed, get this 50,000 iu's twice a week! that is out of the park! but i am so low that it needs to get up somehow... in 6 weeks they are going to repeat the blood work... lately i've been feeling less tired =) so that's a huge plus for me! also i've stopped stressing about my hair... i'm so over hair i don't even care anymore lol! it's actually kind of nice to not worry about it every minute of every day... but i will look into magnesium. thank you again, you really don't know how the support helps me. i appreciate you all! much aloha.

Old 09-09-2008, 12:38 AM   #8
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Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

i am off the pill, and honestly i think that has contributed to my hair... being on a monophasic pill for the last 8 years my body is shocked without the hormones. so many times i wanted to give up and go back on it, but my doctors think i should ride it out because i'm on the 4th month already and i really really don't wanna do this ever again. so i'm done with it. i'm only 32 and i really need to give my body the opportunity to figure out how to work on its out without the synthetic hormones. i KNOW this is contributing to the hair because once i tried to go off and my hair started shedding... when i freaked and stared back on it it stopped. so it's that combined with my iron and vitamin d is my triple hair threat oh well... honestly i'm over this. i was so depressed and it consumed me everyday from waking till i slept. i hate living that way. i will put a scarf on and go about my day, i don't care. i just want to feel peace that's all. thank you for your thoughts i so appreciate your advice and sharing of your life... take care!

Old 09-10-2008, 03:39 PM   #9
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Re: what causes chronically low ferritin? PLEASE help

Something else that someone mentioned is that being on the pill makes the body think it in the 'pregnant' stage and going off the pill makes the body think the pregnant stage is over and it's time to shed all that hair, which is what does happen to pregnant women after having a baby. I'd believe this as the amount of females complaining about hair loss once going of the pill is amazing. Some individuals might be able to get by without any side effects but we're not all the same and we will be affected by one thing in various ways.

Green-ish bananas which aren't fully ripened have more naturla magnesium than those which have frully ripened. I loved them when they are not fully ripened as they are less sweet. Also when they are fully ripened they sort of feel 'floury' in my mouth which i hate. My magnesium always comes back with excellent figures. Not sure if it's due to eating a banana a day.

If you were on the pill for 8 years and you were not taking a multi vitamin B, you could be depleted in your B vitamins as the pill will do this to you.

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