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Old 10-21-2008, 08:13 PM   #1
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Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Hi everyone. I would really appreciate some help understanding my anemia blood test results which I now have a copy of for once.

I have been diagnosed anemic every time I have had a blood test in the past, not sure if I'm anemic now or Iron deficient?

My new Doctor knows it's been going on for a pretty long time so is trying to find the underlying cause of my iron deficiency (blood hormone levels - these came out fine & an ultrasound I have yet to go through). I go to a walk in clinic, I can't find a family doctor & feel very rushed there therefore can't ask all the questions I would like to which is frustrating. Waiting to find out what the cause is but think it may all point to my diet.

I know it is not as bad right now as it has been in the past but I still feel awful, I wish I could get on with the iron tablets but they make me feel ill and I've heard the injections are not much better & the doc doesn't seem keen on it (lots of side effects) which is a shame because I thought I should try this method. I'm 38, am a strict vegetarian but not Vegan (I do eat cheese and milk, no eggs), I try to eat everything else as iron rich as possible.

The flagged part of my results read:

MCH 27.1 - Low (27.5-33.5)
RDW 14.6 - High (11.5-14.5)
Iron 8 - Low (10-33)
Iron Saturation - Low 0.12 (0.20-0.55)

The other results seem to fall within normal range, my Hemoglobin is 120 - (120-150) the lower end of the normal range it seems. I asked for a copy of the results to I could understand them better - is this iron deficiency or a type of Anemia? Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Eloise86; 10-21-2008 at 09:34 PM. Reason: written unclearly

 
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:38 AM   #2
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

It is probably iron deficiency; however, all the proper tests have not be run. Did you get a cbc that includes your MCV (that will show the size of the cells--they are small in iron deficiency). You should also get a ferritin test done to show the status of your iron stores. The serum iron test you had done doesn't really tell much as it is the amount of iron circulating in your bloodstream at that moment of the test. It could be higher in a few hours depending on what you eat. It's not a good predictor of iron status.

 
Old 10-22-2008, 08:13 AM   #3
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Eloise86--If this has been going on for years, your ferritin stores are being lowered. The end result of decreased iron for whatever reason is Iron Deficiency Anemia your Hgb is low end normal. FLFLOWERGIRL

PS--Hi Christine!

Last edited by FLFLOWERGIRL; 10-22-2008 at 08:14 AM.

 
Old 10-22-2008, 07:17 PM   #4
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Re: messages from Christine & Flowergirl. Thank you for taking the time to help me understand, I do appreciate it.

I should ask for a Ferritin test do you think? I don't know why he didn't give me that test. What about B12, for a full overview should I ask for a test that includes that...I would be interested to see what my level is.

Here are the full results from my test:

WBC: 5.7 (4.0-10.0)
RBC: 4.42 (3.80-4.80)
Hemoglobin: 120 Low end (120-150)
Hematocrit: 0.39 ((0.35-0.43)
MCV: 87 (82-89)
MCH: 27.1 Low (27.5-33.5)
MCHC: 312 (305-365)
RDW: 14.6 High (11.5-14.5)
Platelet Count: 375 (150-400)
Iron: 8 Low (10-33)
Iron Saturation: 0.12 Low (0.20-0.55)

I also have differential counts which seem to be in normal range and my TIBC is 65 (37-72), Glucose 3.8 (3.3-11.0) and TSH (thyroid function) 1.4 (0.38-5.5). Just thought I'd give you an idea of my full test but not sure if it sheds any more light.

Last edited by Eloise86; 10-22-2008 at 07:20 PM. Reason: not full info

 
Old 10-23-2008, 05:08 AM   #5
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Your numbers are not that bad. Your MCV is still fairly good, so if there is iron deficiency, I would bet that you haven't reached end-stage but you could be getting there.

I would ask your doctor to run another CBC, a ferritin, a B12, and a folate. This should cover most of the types of nutritional anemia.

 
Old 10-23-2008, 11:09 AM   #6
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Thanks Christine - I will ask for this. Maybe my low energy, long periods of sleep & constant drained/tired feeling is due to something else if my iron tests are not that bad. I can't remember my results from tests in the past exactly apart from I seem to remember my iron has been half the current level before so this is an improvement.

 
Old 10-24-2008, 03:25 AM   #7
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Actually, you can feel pretty bad at your levels. It would be good to know the ferritin. Optimally, your hemoglobin (or hematocrit--I can't remember which one) should be in the upper 13 range; closer to 14. When mine got to its lowest point, 11.7, I felt like death warmed over. I had tachycardia whenver I tried to do anything, shortness of breath, I had no motivation, I was depressed, and I had fairly severe exercise intolerance. I could only walk briskly for about 15 minutes. Then I would be exhausted for DAYS---I'm not kidding. This was with a count of 11.7. My doctors thought it was depression or cardiact related because my numbers were barely in the anemic range. I then found out my ferritin was at 5. They were a little stunned but still surprised since I wasn't truly anemic.

I have been on iron for two years now and I feel SO much better. My ferritin is at least in the 30s now and my other number is always closer to 14. I have been exercising consistently and am now jogging. Something I couldn't even dream of doing when I was at 11.7. So, don't dismiss your numbers. You really need that ferritin.

 
Old 10-24-2008, 12:38 PM   #8
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Thank you for your time Christine. I have been so confused and I'm not particularly comfortable with my doctor, my friend has recommended that I see a doctor who happens to have a lot of knowledge on blood disorders etc so I think I will go and see her and request the other test/s.

I do feel pretty bad, constantly drained, I feel much older than my years, terrible memory, always feel that I'm dragging myself around making myself do things when I just want to sleep. I can drink a large can of red bull to try and invigorate me but it has no effect...I have ofen fallen asleep five minutes after when it gives other people renewed energy or even the jitters! (same with strong coffee which I depend on to get through the day). I have a dog - walking him used to be fun - now it drains me for ages after and I can only walk not walk/run around playing with him like I used to! My work suffers as well but at least I work for myself. I'm so frustrated with feeling like this so want to understand why. I'll post info when I get my other results.

I'm very glad you are feeling much better - so you take the tablets? What type do you take and do they agree with you? I would be interested to hear.

Last edited by Eloise86; 10-24-2008 at 12:39 PM.

 
Old 10-24-2008, 05:04 PM   #9
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Eloise,

You sound exactly as I did when I was going through all this. My job performance was really slacking. It was a good thing that no one much noticed. I was horribly unmotivated. Every task I had to do was overwhelming to me. It took every bit of energy I had to get through my work day and I just collapsed at night. No more shopping on the weekends and a few hours of housework did me in. I was also getting headaches often.

Since I have a sensitive stomach and GERD, (and am sensitive to so many things), I've never done well on the high doses of iron that would have raised my ferritin in a few months. I started out taking SpaTone iron water but it was too hard to get. It was only 5 mg of iron but highly absorbable and you mixed it with juice. That did nothing to raise my ferritin but did get my hemoglobin and hematocrit out of the mild anemia ranges and I felt a bit better. I then carefully added a Flinstone's Chewable vitamin with iron. It contains 18 mg. With that and the 5 mg of Spatone, my ferritin eeked up to a 12. I then started using 2 Flintstones per day (total of 36 mg) and dropped the Spatone. I made it to a ferritin of 20 and sort of stalled for awhile. I then bought some chelated iron at 27 mg from a health food store. It has very little additives in it. It is iron biglysconate which is supposed to be gentle. I take one of those per day, plus my Flinstones which gives me 45 mg per day. Still low dose. Sometimes I take two of the chelated iron a day if I can fit it in. So, this has worked for me but it has been a very SLOW process.

 
Old 10-25-2008, 11:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineVA View Post
Eloise,

You sound exactly as I did when I was going through all this. My job performance was really slacking. It was a good thing that no one much noticed. I was horribly unmotivated. Every task I had to do was overwhelming to me. It took every bit of energy I had to get through my work day and I just collapsed at night. No more shopping on the weekends and a few hours of housework did me in. I was also getting headaches often.

Since I have a sensitive stomach and GERD, (and am sensitive to so many things), I've never done well on the high doses of iron that would have raised my ferritin in a few months. I started out taking SpaTone iron water but it was too hard to get. It was only 5 mg of iron but highly absorbable and you mixed it with juice. That did nothing to raise my ferritin but did get my hemoglobin and hematocrit out of the mild anemia ranges and I felt a bit better. I then carefully added a Flinstone's Chewable vitamin with iron. It contains 18 mg. With that and the 5 mg of Spatone, my ferritin eeked up to a 12. I then started using 2 Flintstones per day (total of 36 mg) and dropped the Spatone. I made it to a ferritin of 20 and sort of stalled for awhile. I then bought some chelated iron at 27 mg from a health food store. It has very little additives in it. It is iron biglysconate which is supposed to be gentle. I take one of those per day, plus my Flinstones which gives me 45 mg per day. Still low dose. Sometimes I take two of the chelated iron a day if I can fit it in. So, this has worked for me but it has been a very SLOW process.
Thanks, that is so interesting to hear and I will keep notes on what you used to help with the condition. Sounds like it worked well for you, I have a sensitive stomach as well - most tablets make me feel ill so your info is invaluable. Depending on the results from the additional tests you suggested -if I turn out to be similar to you I will bring this up with my doctor. She has come highly recommended and although it is a walk in with a few doctors I hope that I get to see her. Other doctors from the past have told me each time that my blood is iron deficient so I'll be interested to see what my further tests show. Take care, your time & advice is very appreciated.

 
Old 12-29-2008, 10:59 PM   #11
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Hi, it's been a while since I last wrote. Finally I had another blood test which was far more comprehensive this time (on the good advice of Christine and others) once I could find a good doctor. Apparently my levels have got worse since last time & now I am anemic not iron deficient. I have been so careful with my diet (I'm vegetarian) but to no avail. I also have Planter Fasciitis which has now affected my whole body (pain up my legs and back, lasted a few months now) I've been receiving physio and just not recovering. The physiotherapist says my body is incapable of healing right now due to my anemia & mineral deficiencies. I had a numb hand for over a week - wondering if this is linked to anemia??

My results:

Folate Serum/RBC - 30 nmol/L (5 and up)
Serum Iron - 6 umol/L (10-33) - Lower than last time
Total Iron binding capacity - (50-90) - 66 umol/L
Iron Saturation (.2-.55) 0.09 - Lower than last time
White Blood Cell Count (4-10) - 5.2
Red Blood Cell count (3.8-4.8) - 4.28
Hemoglobin (120-150) - 119 - Lower than last time
Hematocrit (.35-.43) - 0.37 - 0.37
MCV (82-98) - 87fl
MCH (27.5-33.5) - 27.8
MCHC (320-360) - 320 g/L
Red Cell Diameter Width (11.5-14.5) - 14.7 (slightly higher than last time)
Platelet count etc are all similar to last time, my vitamin B12 is 173 (150-650) - normal so that's great.
Serum Ferritin (which I didn't get tested for last time) 7 ug/L (10-160) Low

I've been told to take two iron tablets a day and return in a month for more blood tests (a week and a half to go yet). I'm taking just one Ferrous Gluconate (300 mg) a day as this gives me stomach pain enough!(this is what I used to be on) The Physio has suggested liquid iron which I want to try and I'm thinking of doing the same as Christine who helped me earlier in this thread. I keep hoping my stomach will get used to the iron but so far it isn't! - so will probably take the lesser dose/ and or liquid iron (even though doc suggested against it - because she said it was too low in iron - thing is my body finds it very difficult to deal with!).

 
Old 12-30-2008, 04:30 PM   #12
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Eloise86--I'm glad that you finally found a good doctor, that's always a plus. A couple of things come to my mind. You are mildly anemic and really want your Hgb to be optimal at 14.0, this will also help in the storage of iron. You also want to be on a high dose iron for at least 6 months to raise your ferritin, it may be longer. I was on 300mgs daily for 1 year and now remain on 150 daily. Low dose iron does not really work very well. The longer your numbers are low the more symptoms and ~things~ begin to happen. I would suggest to try different types of iron that are GI friendly verses a low dose (your doctor is correct, especially liquid iron), you may be spinning your wheels. I also have GI troubles and know where you are coming from. I take Poly iron that is well tolerated by many. It is 150 mgs of elemental iron in each dose. My Hematologist said, anything under the lab range for ferritin means that there is no iron left in your stores, next you pull from organ tissue which is not good. So, you see why it is so important to replenish the stores to a normal high range. Your B-12 is also on the lower end of the range and should be at the highest end. Have you found a reason yet for your anemia? Has your new doctor done further testing besides blood labs? You have to find a cause before you can fix the problem. Best of luck to you. Keep us posted. FLFLOWERGIRL

 
Old 12-30-2008, 06:43 PM   #13
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Thanks Flowergirl! I will carry on with these tablets - they don't agree with my stomach but if this is what it takes to sort this out then I will continue. You mentioned Vitamin B12 - well I've bought some tablets as my Doctor had asked me to take them, your comments will remind me to take them every day!

I have had other tests - an ultrasound: which turned out fine, Female Hormone levels: again turned out fine. The docs are not doing any other tests and have no answers apart from me being vegetarian.

I think this is probably all due to me being a Vegetarian who does not eat all the right/correct foods. I have researched iron rich food sources before (I have been vegetarian 26 years) and thought I was eating a good balanced diet but obviously not! Currently I'm reviewing everything I eat! I have just bought an Indian cookery book called 'Iron Rich Recipes - Overcome Anaemia' by Tarla Dalal, should be worth a try...

 
Old 12-30-2008, 08:46 PM   #14
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Eloise86--At the same time it is most important not to make your guts sick inside, iron can be very abrasive. You really need to find an iron supplement that is GI friendly, many scripts are available OTC behind the pharmacy, you have to ask for it. My system got so messed up with ferris sulfate that it gave me enteritis for 3 months and I ended up in the ER. My colon was so inflamed and I had nausea from that for months. You do need high iron, but it needs to be well tolerated by you. If you have a bad reaction discontinue it and try something else.

The form of B-12 should be Methyl -Verses- Cyano in sublingual form, under the tongue, liquid or tabs that dissolve. It is well absorbed. Jarrow is a brand that is recommended or any form of Methyl will do.

Yes, after 26 years without Heme iron I can see how that could happen. I don't eat red meat myself for probably 30 years now. I do on occasion try to eat a little meat, since my ferritin doesn't want to go up. I have to hide it in my food with sauces or sandwiches. There are only a couple that I can even try, I just don't like it. Heme iron is so well absorbed, it's a shame that we need it so much. Your new book sounds like a good one. I guess this is why you are low in B-12 too. Best of luck to you and keep us posted. FLFLOWERGIRL

 
Old 12-31-2008, 12:04 AM   #15
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Re: Please help me understand my bloodwork results

Dear Flowergirl...I'll look out for the B12 supplement you mentioned, sounds good.

Re: Iron tablets: I've tried a few different types of tablet in the past and none of them have ever agreed with me, unfortunately the doctor had nothing to suggest so I will seek out other iron supplement tablets myself.

Re: Enteritis - I'm so sorry that you had such a bad experience, it sounds awful...to deal with that when your only trying to help your Anemia. It sounds scary, I hope you never have to experience that again. I hope I avoid this as well as iron tablets are harsh to say the least on your body.

Have you ever experienced numbness and cramps? As I mentioned earlier my hand was numb for a week (haven't mentioned this to doctor yet, they are always in such a rush when I go there) and I get cramp in my feet and legs more than usual. I think it could very well be linked but maybe it's a vitamin/mineral deficiency. I also have ringing in my ears from time to time which is quite unsettling.

Last edited by Eloise86; 12-31-2008 at 12:12 AM. Reason: not written well

 
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