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annierules 08-15-2008 09:39 AM

what is the difference between low iron and anemia
what is the difference between low iron and anemia

ChristineVA 08-15-2008 10:55 AM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
You can be iron deficient (low iron) without it going into anemia. Anemia is the final stage (or end result) of having low iron. When you iron gets too low for too long of a time, you will eventually become anemic. Low iron will give you symptoms (fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, exercise intolerance). When you become anemic, all these symptoms get a lot worse.

annierules 08-15-2008 05:40 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
I don't understand than why my doctor is so concerned about my low iron if I am not anemic. I have had a colonoscopy and endoscopy and both were fine. Now he wants to do another test to see if I have a tumor in my lower bowel, all because my iron is low.
My mom just died from pancreatic cancer, so I don't know if he is just being over cautious or what. Do you know what a normal count for iron is? he said mine was 18, then 28, now 24. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

FLFLOWERGIRL 08-15-2008 06:41 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
There is a reason for low iron that has to be determined. Your doctor is ruling out things that may be using up your iron. The common reason for lower iron in females is usually due to heavy periods. Colonoscopy, Endo, Small bowel are all (standard) and done to R/O reasons.

A normal ferritin level is 10-232 (this is the iron storage), different labs have different ranges. Normal would be in range, although, a healthy level is 70-100.

Iron Serum level range is 40-170 which is the circulating iron in the blood. This changes be eating meals and taking supplements. It is not a good indicator of how much iron you have in your body for use, the Ferritin is used for that measurement.


annierules 08-15-2008 07:02 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
Thanks for your reply. I am trying not to get worried. I no longer have periods so that would not be a cause. I am not a big meat eater or for that matter I do not eat much through out the day. I am hoping I can start eating more meats and vegetables to see if I can raise the level.

FLFLOWERGIRL 08-15-2008 08:28 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
annierules--No, don't get worried if you can help it. Do you take PPI's like Nexium or have a thyroid problem? I stopped most of my blood loss due to heavy periods and I still have a difficult time raising my ferritin. This is not uncommon either. Many of us are trying to raise our feritin. My Ferritin went down to 2 and I had to have the same tests as you. Different things that are not so bad can cause impaired absorption of iron as well. I am wondering what test it is that your doctor wants, if you have already had a colonoscopy? Is it the small bowel? This is usually the last place they look. At least that has been my experience. It could be your diet if you are not eating much. That would be easy to correct by eating red meat 3X weekly. A multivitamin helps rebuilding red blood cells. Are you on iron supplements yet? FLFLOWERGIRL:)

annierules 08-15-2008 09:55 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
I do take thyroid medication and have just recently started on Prilosec. My mom was diagnosed on a Thursday and died 2 1/1 weeks later. She was at home and my sisters and I took care of her. She was the main caregiver for my dad, so we now have stepped into that role also. I guess I am telling you this, because the stomach distress I am feeling I think is because of the stress, so that is why I was put on Prilosec.
I think it is the small bowel that he wants to test with the camera you swallow with a pill. I will start iron supplements as soon as I do the hemocult test. He has tested once for blood in the stool before, but he wants to do it one more time. Then I will find a good supplement also. Thank you so much for being so nice to take the time to chat with me. It is nice to hear someone else has kinda gone down this road and nothing serious has come out of it. I think having my mom pass away so recently has also got me nervous and on top of all the rest I am an insulin dependent diabetic, but have tried very hard to keep my sugars in control and take care of myself.

FLFLOWERGIRL 08-16-2008 08:33 AM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
annierules--I am so very sorry for your loss. I understand your concern. I'm sure this is most of your stomach problem. The small bowel testing is a good test to have. So, in this case the PPI that you are on is NOT your problem because you haven't been on it long term. Try not to worry about it, although we all do when this type of thing comes up. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Many of us have experiences to share. Keep us posted on your results. FLFLOWERGIRL:)

annierules 08-19-2008 10:31 AM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
I was wondering if you have ever taken iron supplements? I just finished my blood occult test, so yesterday was my first day on iron. I bought it at the healthfood store because I heard it was hard on you stomach so I tried to get the easiest to digest. I woke up with stomach pain, about 12 or 14 hours after I took it, so I am not sure if it is the iron or just my stomach acting up. any ideas? Thanks

FLFLOWERGIRL 08-19-2008 05:51 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
annierules--It was smart of you to start out on something that is not so harsh, although, iron IS just that, harsh. I took the standard Ferris Sulfate 3X daily to start because my PCP didn't know what to prescribe for me. He told me to go to the pharmacy and do whatever so that's what I did. I already have a sensitive stomach so I was in misery and ended up in the ER later because of it. To make a long story short, I was sent to the GI, when he heard my problem he prescribed something that is called Poly Iron 150. It is made for long term use and is easy on the GI tract. I can take it on an empty stomach. I can't even do that with vitamins. I was on 300 mgs for a long time, now I am on 150 daily. It is a script OR also available OTC, but you have to order it from the pharmacy. So I would ask about this. There are others to try, you just have to find the one that you can tolerate well. You can start a new thread and ask others what they take, they will be glad to tell you. We all have a different experience. If you want to continue your iron you can cut it take less and build up to the normal dose. Or, you can take it with food which is recommended by doctors when you are having a problem, but know that it inhibits the absorption by 50-65%. If you really need iron I don't suggest this for long. I did it and my numbers dropped. Good luck with your testing. I did the 3 day occult blood thing too. It only shows intermittent bleeding. Keep us posted. FLFLOWERGIRL:)

annierules 08-19-2008 06:01 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
Thanks for your quick reply. You are so sweet to share. Can you tell me did you go to the ER with stomach pain or nausea. I have a girlfriend who said she gets nauseated from iron but I haven't found anyone who has stomach pain with it. Was yours stomach pain? My doctor called this afternoon and my occult test came back negative so that was good, but when I told him about the stomach pain he just said take it with food, which I did. then he said to call him back if it did not get better. I will try again tomorrow, and if not better I will ask him for Poly iron. He is a GI, but like most doctors he seems to always be in a hurry.

FLFLOWERGIRL 08-20-2008 02:07 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
annierules--I went to the ER because the iron gave me enteritis for 3 months which got me out of my sleep every morning. I was so weak and dizzy and I didn't know what was wrong. I had tachycardia at the ER 133 heart rate, my blood cells were (MCV) 65low, severely small, not enough oxygen. What made it worse was that when I had my CBC at the ER they said, you are no longer anemic so it's not anemia. No the high dosage iron was killing me to get me from 8.5 hgb to 12.9 in 2 months time! I also had very bad pain at the top of my stomach area (sharp pain) until I discontinued the ferris sulfate. I had to hold my stomach area. I lost 15 pounds with all this. They took me off iron completely for a while. So, I basically had all the bad stuff. The doctor looked at me and said this could last another month. It only lasted 2 more weeks at that point thank goodness. At the Endoscopy there was no erosive evidence found. They did find a hiatal hernia. I took Nexium at that time, sometimes 2X daily for the pain until I healed. I had nausea for 6 months. I was fine until I took the iron and became ill as soon as I started it, but I though that I had to take it because I didn't want a blood transfusion. My PCP isn't so good and I had to wait to see the GI doc. A big mess. It's good news that your occult was neg. Your doctor will probably be familiar with the Poly Iron. It saved me from IV iron infusion, so I am grateful! I would take something to ease the stomach pain and help it heal. Ask your pharmacist, you don't have to suffer with that. Do NOT lay down after taking iron supplements. FLFLOWERGIRL:)

FLFLOWERGIRL 08-20-2008 02:10 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
Wanted to add...... that there have been several others here that have also suffered with stomach pain due to iron supplements, it is not uncommon. FLFLOWERGIRL:)

annierules 08-20-2008 02:23 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
Thanks FLFLOWERGIRL: Your wisdom is great and helps to understand this journey of trying to find good health again.

MandyPandy 08-20-2008 08:50 PM

Re: what is the difference between low iron and anemia
Hi Annierules - at one time my primary doctor wanted me to take ferrous sulfate (iron) 3x a day at 325 mgs. I tried it for a couple days and I thought I was going to basically I have not been taking any iron because all of my doctors have told me in the past I am "borderline normal" so I didn't think there was a problem althogh I was having most of the symptoms.

Recently I went to the ER for extreme stomach pains, not related to the iron as I was not taking any just constipation - you can imagine what it woudl have been like if i woudl have taken the iron supplements, and my hemoglobin count was only 5 which means I basically only had about 1/3 the amount of blood I needed in my body. My ferritin level was a 1. So basically over time even though I was "borderline normal" on the iron count since I did not take iron and my body is no longer absorbing most of the iron I eat, due to another surgery and the loss of part of my intestines, my body became extremely anemic to the point that I needed to be hospitalized and given 3 units of blood. I am still low at this point and will probably need iron infusions (IV therapy) in the future.

My doctor told me that there are some newer iron pills have came out that are gell/liquid pills that are easier on your stomach which you might want to ask about. I am also on other medications now to help with the constipation which would not be uncommon for your doctor to do if you are going to be on iron. I would definitely say that its much easier to treat the iron deficiency now rather than let it get to the levels where you are anemic and need drastic measures to be taken.

It doesn't seem fair sometimes that we have to deal with these things, especially after all that you have been through. I hope that things work out and you find an iron supplement that works for you. Maybe taking 2 smaller dosages a day would be more helpful and less harmful for you than taking the dosage that you are taking.

Good luck!

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