I've had low iron stores for the past 4 to 5 yrs (and only now the doctors have decided to do something about it ) I have always dipped into anemia due to very heavy periods, but the doctor i recently saw put me on a course of iron tablets for four months and it did not budge the low iron levels???? so i'm now going to see a specialist.
Prior to this about four years ago i suddenly lost alot of hair, the hair continues to fall all over the head and has not regrown, in fact the condition is very dry and coarse. I just dont fully believe low iron levels for 4 to 5 yrs can have this effect??? I did initally thought it was down to thyroid as my mum had hyperactive thryroid gland when she was carrying me. Doctors had to induce me and then opererate on her. My syptoms seem to be the same, as follows:-
-always cold feet and hands
-get very confuessed
-only half eyebrow grows
A bit more of my medical history i suffered from acne and had a course of roacutane, funny enough it did not increase the loss of hair. I also have an intollerance to Dairy products and Yeast.
In my case, I am hoping that my low iron stores *are* the cause of my hair loss. My hair started falling out 3 years ago, but I didn't think much of it because my hair was so thick to begin with...after a year, it did get thinner so I went to my doctor complaining of hair loss and fatigue. What do you know? I was anemic and had a ferritin score of 8. Right now, I have a ferritin of 19 and continue to have hair loss. I have added vitamin C and lysine in addition to the iron supplements (these are supposed to help with absorption). I am not sure if they are helping as I am not due for another blood test for 2 months.
From research I have done, you need to get your ferritin to 40 in order to stop the hair loss and to 70 in order for regrowth. I believe ferritin needs to be 40 for at least 3 months in order for the hair loss to stop. I have not reached that yet.
Maybe if you add vitamin C and lysine to your iron supplementation, you will be able to increase your iron stores.
Thank you, i know my iron store levels have been around 10 for the past 4-5 years. The course of iron tablets did not budge this result, so i appear not to be building any stores up, hence seeing a specialist.
My hair too was very thick, but i've lost so much its so light. Is your hair very coarse, no conditioner in the world would ease mine, my hair seems to have ridges down the hair, very strange/???
Have you had anything else tested other than your ferretin levels?
I couldn't see the link between low iron and some of the tests the Trichologist i see ordered. I have since found out that my thyroid results were not the best, but not that bad that i needed meds, but even so it was affecting my health. With thyroid you can be borderline, not need meds, but still suffer symptoms.
During my first round of tests i found out i was very low in Vitamin D. I was lower than the lowest range on the blood test report.
During my last batch of tests he ordered a red cell zinc test and it showed that my zinc wasn't dangerously low, but could do with improvement, prior to that he had only done a serum zinc test which had shown me to be ok. Not sure what the difference is, but i'd say one test must give a clearer picture of what is going on.
This time he also did a urine test to check my Iodine. Lucky he did as i have found out that i'm very low in Iodine. Apparently this can happen when zinc is low, but my zinc isn't dramatically low. I'm on Iodine drops every morning for 3 months now. If the Iodine is low it then affects the thyroid.
After going through all of this it really made me see how important it was to know what tests are essential to have done, especially if your iron is refusing to go up after a lengthy time of trying.
Has any doctor suggested what could be causing the low iron and your particular symptoms? The various reasons i've read about on here are due to being vegan, heavy periods, celiacs diseas (gluten intolerance), internal bleeding.
With the hair loss, that can be iron related, but the thyroid can contribute as well. As i have a foot in both camps, i kind of think perhaps my hair issue could be as a result of both.
A lot of doctors will simply take the easy way out and do the TSH test, but this is quite useless on it's own as it doesnt give a clear enough picture of what is really going on. In addition to the TSH they should include the T3 and T4. My TSH was high when it should have been much lower, while the T3 and T4 were low and should have been higher. I am fortunate that my doctor takes it all seriously and genuinely wants to see me get to the bottome of all my health issues, particularly my hair loss. Each time i get my blood test results back he writes the target figures of where i should be in red pen next to my results, so each time i get a repeat blood test i can see whether i'm getting closer to my goal.
I have read on here, on the net and hear it from my doctor how some people's thyroid might not be totally out and need medicating, but their figures are either too high or too low that it would cause definite side effects.
I think i mentioned in my other post about the iodine. If your iodine is too low it can cause your thyroid to not function correctly and iodine gets thrown out by insufficient zinc in your system. Everything is linked, kind of like a domino effect. So simply getting a thyroid or a full iron test might not be enough. It's a good idea to get a number of things tested at the same time to give you a good overall idea of what is going on.
The first test he got me to do was liver function, full iron, zinc, B12, SHBG and FAI hormones, testosterone, vitamin D and magnesium. At the next test he retested a lot of the original stuff plus added iodine and added a reverse T3 test and changed the zinc test to a red cell zinc test instead of the serum zinc test.
I know it all sounds confusing, but when they give you a full test and test everything possible to find out what's going on and you take a good look at your test results and familiarise yourself with it all, do some research, ask some questions, see what connection various things have with each other it makes it so much easier.
I have to change doctors recently for professional reasons. I saw my new doctor for routine bloods (the joys of being anemic!) and was quite suprised when i got the results back as they had only requested a TSH level and not the T3 and T4 as my old doc always requested.
I too have always been 'borderline' under active, different doctors seem to have different ideas, in an ideal world I believe the pathology lab should test all the lot as routine - but thats just my opinion.
Its a well known fact though that ferritin needs to be above 70 for hair to regrow, the highest mines been (after numerous infusions) was 68, so my hair until just recently didnt start to grow back for about 3 years. I noticed a very slight regrowth over the last month (even though my ferritin is around 2), which I put down to head massage.
My hair loss is VERY noticable as I only had fine hair to start with, so these days I opt for the female version of a comb over - lol.
I've noticed some of you are in u.s.a and seem to receive far better treatment and options to what is available in the U.k!! Doctors here cant be bothered, and general we have to suffer or pay privately (which is really streching it for me). I dont mind paying if i know what test exactly need to be done, especially with thyriod!
eilatan - i have read posts from people in the USA saying the exact opposite and that people in the UK and Australia having the better doctors who are willing to do more thorough testing. At the end of the day i think it's simply personal luck on finding a doctor who is willing to help and who has an understanding of your condition, whether it be iron or thyroid or something else.
That's why after everything i have been through, if my doctor won the lottery and left, i would most definitely shop around till i found another good doctor. There is no way i would settle for second best if i could help it, not when it concerns my health.
Audrey B - Sounds like you have a great doctor? Is it an endo, GP, hematologist or what? They are saying all my thyroid tests are normal.......but my ferritin is 14. (emotional stress and rapid weight loss is causing the hair to fall out so quickly......but my ferritin being low, isn't helping!!) I saw my hematologist yesterday and he has put me on 325mg of Ferrous Sulfate 3xday along with Vitamin C and diet filled with iron rich foods. I go back in 3 weeks to check levels. He wants to try this prior to any IV iron due to side effects.
I am not sure whether I should have started a new thread but I noticed several mentioned symptoms, which are common.
My ferritin level was 25 and I believe it was since long. I am currently 34. Before this, I was trying get myself better with thyroid and adrenal support but nothing was working for me. After I started iron supplements (54 mg iron along with 1000 mg vitamin C, 3 times a day empty stomach), I have started feeling much better including less fatigue, hair loss, energy, breath, sleep and more. Overall, I feel much better in weeks. I think it might be because the iorn/C combination is better or I am able to absorb them in a better way. I am not sure.
The major thing I am feeling is my memory and concentration issue. Do any one has severe issue with them? Before starting supplements, I was unable to concentrate even for couple of seconds, but now, some time I can concentrate much better but some time, looks like all improvement goes away. Do any one has any clue or suggestion?
Your prompt response is greatly appreciated.
Christie - the doctor i see is called a Trichologist. They specialise in hair/scalp conditions. He was a last resort for me, but i wish i had found him much sooner as he is the only doctor i had come across who believes in raising ferretin levels up 70 and above. He would like to see my levels at 125, but i have told him fat chance of that happening!!
I had to resort to this message board initially to get help regarding my situation and gp's would rubbish my findings or would trivialise my concern. They would either pass my hair shedding off as stress or would say that it's natural for females over 30 to begin losing hair. After learning a heap of information from here i then did more research on the net so i could find the right Trichologist. I didn't want to end up with one who was only after my money. Luckily i found one who knew his stuff and genuinely wanted to see me get healthy again.
I have a blood test tomorrow morning and i'm hoping for better results than before. I am feeling better and this is the first january in now 7yrs that i have noticed considerably less hair shedding. I have had an improvement in my general well being and things i thought were 'normal' before i have found not to be so eg: i used to think my eyes were simply sore from looking at a computer all day. My sore and stinging eyes disappeared once my ferretin got to approximately 30. The highest i got to was 35 but that was with the aid of iron injections, which later i learnt give you a false high and then your ferretin drops back down again.
Javasoft - I can relate to how you began feeling better once your ferretin got to a higher level. About 5 years ago mine had dropped to 22 and my gp at the time said my blood test was fine, he didnt even recommend taking an iron supplement. I was always tired and losing hair. As he said everything was normal i didnt know what else could be causing my symptoms. I even blamed the chemicals in hair shampoo for my hair loss at one stage. My ferretin ended up at 8 and it's taken me nearly 2yrs to get from 8 to 35, not sure what i'm at now, but i'm hoping it's over 40. I'm still taking my iron supplement twice a day and wont stop till i do get it over 70 no matter how long it takes.
You say that your improvement tends to go backwards at times. I think that is normal in today's hectic lifestyle where we try to do too much all day, every day. My work is very hectic and now i have learnt the difference between basic tiredness to do with work v's low iron tiredness. How is your diet? do you eat foods which will give you long lasting energy rather than a quick boost for a short time only? Do you get enough protein in your diet? Do you do any form of exercise? I'm not a fitness fanatic and i dont only eat healthy foods, but a balance of exercise and the right foods will take you a long way providing all other areas of your health are ok. No chance of your thyroid being just a bit out and causing the tiredness? For some people their thyroid doesnt have to be way out for it to give off symptoms.
Thanks for your detailed response.
I eat just like a regular person, I mean nothing special. I think it is almost balanced including carbohydrates, fats and protein etc. but I do not do any exercise except some days, I do long walk. I feel difficult to exercise as it makes me much tired, I believe much more then a regular person. The major visible improvement I see after taking iron supplements is that my nails are getting pink which were always violet colored since long as I can remember which I assume were due to iron deficiency. Also one more thing is that I was diagnosed with low B-12 which was <30 and I am currently taking supplements for that.
Regarding thyroid, as you might know that symptoms of low thyroid and low iron are quite similar, I had been trying to balance my thyroid using synthroid for more then 3 years with potency 12.5 mcg to 150 mcg but each time I used to change potency, I felt better for a few days (not even a week) but then I used to get hyperthyroid symptoms. Same happened when I tried T3 (cytomel). I was not sure why. some one told me that it could be adrenal. So, I started as per suggestions but improvements even were not consistent. After that, they told me that it could be low ferritin and blood test confirmed it.
I think I should also have my blood tested for zinc. What you suggest? Any comments are greatly appreciated.
Last edited by moderator2; 02-25-2008 at 12:53 PM.
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Javasoft - i'm no expert so i can't really comment on those statements, what i have learnt comes from my specialist, my own research, this healthboard and my own personal experience with low ferretin levels and varying things which have occured to me since my ferretin first began dropping. Once i knew that all my problems were basically due to very low ferretin i simply focused on the ferretin only and didn't look into adrenal issues ect.
My thyroid wasn't at the level it ought to be. From memory my TSH levels were too high and the T3 and T4 levels weren't high enough - something along those lines, i can't quite remember right now - but they weren't out sufficiently enough to require medication. My specialist believes my thyroid was out only due to low ferretin levels over a long period of time and once my ferretin levels rose i would notice my thyroid results improving.
My specialist orders a red cell zinc test rather than a basic serum zinc test - i think he feels it's more accurate. Every 3 months he gets a ferretin test, serum iron, red cell zinc, urine test for iodine level which he believes is mandatory to effectively assess thyroid homeostasis, B12, TSH, T3, T4, Vitamin D, SHBG.....i think that's about it.
This time he is testing the above things and has added folate red cell, anti-gliadin IgA Abs, tTG IgA, IgG, Anti-endomysial IgA, IgG, IgM.......i'm not sure what half of that stuff means but that's what he has typed up on his referal letter to the pathology people.
At first when i went to this specialist i thought it was a simple matter of taking an iron supplement, but then i found out i was extremely low in Vitamin D as well as Iodine. My B12 was quite good though. This time around i will be getting a gluten intolerance test done to rule that out. I don't think it will be an issue, but it doesnt hurt to rule it out. I was supposed to have my blood test done last saturday but slept in so am hoping to do it this thursday. My doctor likes me for some reason to have the blood drawn as close to 8am as possible. Not sure why this is.
In your case, taking the thyroid meds along with iron supplements can make things more difficult. From reading other people's posts on this board, i believe that taking the two too close together can made the other less effective. It's best to take the iron supplements and thyroid meds 2 or more hours apart. You should search some old posts on this board as there are quite a few people who are battling low ferretin along with being on thyroid meds.