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berty 06-08-2007 01:14 PM

just had iron tests, need help understanding
Hi All,
I've been suffering from tellogen effluvium for about a year now. It's getting so bad that I'm desperate. I had my iron levels checked by my GP this week and he called and said normal. Total iron is 176 and Ferritin 19, and I'm female and 28 yrs. I'm confused about this whole ferritin thing... the doc said my iron is on the high side and I should not take iron supplements. I have many symptoms of iron deficiency, but clearly, my bloodwork says otherwise, I suppose. I got an IUD about four months before the hair loss started. So, my periods are very heavy. That's why I assumed iron deficiency. If anyone can offer advice or info., I'd greatly appreciate it.

mom2cole 06-08-2007 01:42 PM

Re: just had iron tests, need help understanding
This sounds a bit odd to me that the Dr would say normal. I just got told a month or so ago my Ferritin was a 19 and my GI Dr wanted to do a colonoscopy to see if internal bleeding. Currently I am taking iron supplements per my regular Dr and will reck my iron and ferritin 6 wks after taking them. 19 is in the normal range but at the low end of it (10-232 normal I was told) so maybe since you are only 28 that is why Dr says normal and doesnt ask you to do anything else. But if you are having other symptons of low iron then maybe somethign s/b done. I cant recall my other iron levels or the normal on them. I got a copy of the lab results from Dr office maybe you should request this also and ck it out yourself. Oh and I am 43 so my situation may be different. Good luck!

sparkles916 06-08-2007 07:58 PM

Re: just had iron tests, need help understanding
While 19 is low, it is not necessarily deficiency. The most liberal standard I have found is in the area of Clinical Nutrition, which puts deficiency at below 20 ferritin. Many other mainstream studies, including hematology are lower.

That is not to say that you might not feel better at a higher level. Do you have any older records that demonstrate a pattern where you had a consistently higher ferritin?

You may want to look into a potential thyroid condition if you have not already. Some hypothyroid people have low ferritin, are deficient or anemic too. It can account for hair loss, heavy periods as well as other well-known symtoms like faitigue, dry skin, muscle aches, etc. :cool:

berty 06-09-2007 08:30 AM

Re: just had iron tests, need help understanding
Thanks for the info. I have had my thyroid levels checked several times this year as well as this past week and my doctor says normal. I'm not sure of the levels though. My period is heavy because of my IUD, which is why I thought I had low iron. Do you know why my total iron is on the higher side, but ferritin is low? I'm seeing a hematologist next week. Thanks!

sparkles916 06-09-2007 08:43 AM

Re: just had iron tests, need help understanding
I'm sorry but I don't know the answer to your question. But, as you are going to a hematologist, he/she will be able to answer it.

As far as the thyroid is concerned, the newest guidelines state that a TSH of 3.0 is the upper limit (abve this hypothyroid), and 0.3 is the lower limit (hyper). Anything above a 2.0 is suspect for hypo, though maybe not treated. Also, a low free T4 (which is commonly given as part of a thyroid panel) is suggestive of hypo, even if the TSH is not yet very elevated.


sandradee0303 06-28-2007 12:35 PM

Re: just had iron tests, need help understanding
Berty, did you make your appt with the hematologists???

I was wondering because my iron serum is high (always) and my ferritin is always around 20-22.

Sandra Dee

Audrey-B 06-29-2007 12:47 AM

Re: just had iron tests, need help understanding
Firstly, your iron levels on your blood test are simply and indication of how much iron was there at the time of the blood test. Your iron goes up and down all day long, depending on the foods you eat, drink, your menstrual cycle etc. Looking simply at your iron level is not the best indicator as it's your ferretin level which is the important figure.

Ferretin of only 19 might not be considered anemic, but it is very low. My ferretin levels dropped year by year and my gp simply kept telling me that my blood tests were fine. I on the other hand was noticing considerable hair shedding and noticed that the bottom of my hair length was thinning compared to how much hair i had on my scalp. I had baby hairs growing, but they never seemed to last the distance and all the long hairs kept dropping off year by year.

Fast forward to 6yrs later.........i did a heap of research on here and anywhere else i could and finally found a specialist who dealt in my condition, which is a Trichologist (hair/scalp specialist). He backed up all my research and especially the fact that those with low ferretin and continous and overall hair loss need to keep their ferretin levels over 70 for a period of 6 to 12 months for a proper hair growth cycle to develop. I did visit a dermatologist, but she simply said all was ok and nothing to worry about.

This condition is reversible but takes time. Some of the over the counter iron supplements are such low dosages that you could easily double the dosage. Look at your diet too, if you are vegan then it's likely more difficult to raise your levels or if you eat a lot of rubbish type foods or drink too many caffeinated beverages.

If you have anemia for too long or low ferretin it can start to affect the thyroid as well as other side effects and thyroid can affect hair loss and tiredness just like anemia can. On the other hand if your body isn't absorbing iron from foods or your iron supplements it could mean you need a higher dosage of the supplements or there could be other problems with your body not creating enough enzymes to help digest your food. Maybe you are suffering stress. It's all really guess work at the start, but you would benefit from attempting to boost your ferretin and if your doctor isn't cooperative i would endeavour to find one who actually understands this particular field as not all gp's understand (actually they rarely do!!) and not ALL dermotologists are qualified with the hair loss factor of dermatology, only some are. This is why seeing a Trichologist is sometimes the only answer.

The problem is reversible though. I have been on over 80mg of iron supplement since about Feb of this year and even though i could only get my ferretin back up to 29 i have noticed masses of baby hairs growing all over the place, more than ever before. I just hope they stay there. On monday i will be starting iron injections as my specialist wants my ferretin to be over 125 just incase i have a bad relapse and so i dont slide beneath 70 again in a hurry. As the iron supplement is taking forever we felt the injections would be much faster. It makes me sad as my hair was down to my waist and it was the thing i liked best about me so i can truly understand how it is for females to face hair loss. All the best to you :)

sandradee0303 06-29-2007 06:34 AM

Re: just had iron tests, need help understanding
I am trying to understand because my MD (pain manager) who takes care of my fibromyalgia and hypothyroid is worried about the high serum and not the low ferritin. He is open to my researching my conditions so hopefully he will "hear" about the ferritin being to low.

sandra dee

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