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  • Low ferritin & just given iron tablets

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    Old 02-22-2009, 02:50 PM   #1
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    Low ferritin & just given iron tablets

    Hi Everyone
    I will give you a bit of history about me firstly, I live in the UK , Noth wales, not sure if this board is UK or international but i'm sure the advice/help will be the same anyway. In 2006 my ferritin was tested due to recurrent throat infections etc and it was found to be 11 , so i was given iron tablets and took them for a while and my iron went up to about 38( I think the doctor said this was within a normal range) but they made me feel really sick so i was quite reluctant to take them , i started to feel better the throat infections stopped and I stopped taking the tablets and my bloods were not tested again til this time. A few weeks ago i seemed i developed a problem with my eyes, they were constantly feeling tired, sore and watery, I had swabs and optician check and nothing was found but the doctor gave me antibiotic drops , not sure if they worked .. but after about 14 days that cleared up . then just after that I started to feel very light headed and dizzy with a kind of shaky feeling . at first i thought it might be low blood sugar as i seemed to get this when i was pregnant also , so i went back to the doctors had loads of blood tests done , they checked for coeliac dissease (as they say this can stop your body absorbing iron) that was clear, and they checked thyroid function, diabetes, liver function . When i phoned the doctors the receptionist just said my serum ferritin/iron was low and there was a prescription for me waiting, when i asked her what level it was she said 10.8. I have been given a prescription for ferrous fumerate to be taken 3 times a day!This seems like such a lot to me , im sure last time when it was at 11 i only had to take 1 a day , but that was 3 years ago .
    Is it normal procedure for doctors to just prescribe iron tablets and see if things improve before exploring other things or should i feel concerned that he hasnt asked to see me . I am trying to reassure myself that my iron was this low 3 years ago and did go up when i took the iron tablets, and Im still here, dont seem to have any other symptoms etc. but when i look at websites about iron deficiency anemia . they scare me stupid about it being caused by losing blood/colon cancer etc. Should i be going back to the doctors and asking him to infestigate more or should i see if things improve with the tablets. I am 36 years of age and Im not sure if my periods could be classed as very heavy, they last for about 6 days and I guess they are heavy for about 3 days of them 6 but i dont know what would be classed heavy enough to make me anaemic , also i dont know if this might play a part or at all effect my iron , but i have been dieting for 18 months and have lost 7 stone , it is a healthy diet(slimming world ) but I dont really eat alot of cereal or bread anymore . I eat loads of fruit and vegetables and pasta and rice, and i do try to eat some meat , some days I will eat lots of meat and on other only smallish portions , but i do try to have pulses atleast a few times a week . I thank you so much for reading and would really appreciate any words that anyone might like to offer me as i am so confused and worried
    thank you

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    Old 02-22-2009, 07:32 PM   #2
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    Re: Low ferritin & just given iron tablets

    shannon2009--Welcome to the boards!

    Your story is very typical of many people that come to these boards. Don't get too scared about what you read on websites because it will only cause you needless anxiety.

    Anemia is a symptom of something else happening, it is not a disease in and of itself. Most likely it is your 6 day periods with 3 being heavy. That is all I had was 3 heavy days, but was enough to cause a problem. Although, it was not the only cause from what they tell me. Many times there can be more than one reason adding to the problem so keep an open mind.

    It also takes years to deplete the ferritin iron stores. It sounds like maybe what has happened is that you didn't fill the stores the first time and slowly it has reoccurred. Or maybe you are having malabsorption. Also, 3X daily is very standard for iron replacement.

    Finally, it is standard practice to explore a cause for this to be happening before prescribing iron supplements. For the known fact that this can be from many other causes that first need to be ruled out. A standard procedure is to have a GI doc do an upper and lower scope to rule out blood loss, which may be due to; ulcers, H-Pylor, Celiac disease, gastritis, stomach/colon polyps and malabsorption issues.

    My PCP prescribed iron and sent me to the GYN. I was fortunate that my DH was seeing a GI doc at this time. We called his office and faxed my labs to him that showed my Hgb at 8.5 and 2 Ferritin. They got me in within 3 days and yet it took 3 more weeks before they could do the two procedures at the same time. They found a small hiatal hernia, no cause of blood loss.

    Next, I went to the GYN and after an US she did an endometrial ablation to stop or slow the bleeding. The findings were 7 polyps that were missed on the ultrasound, this too cause heavy bleeding, so they were removed at that time.

    A year after all this they say that I am having malabsorption due to the fact that my ferritin has been moving up at a snails pace, 43 at the one yr mark, and is now 58 two years later. Well, that's a bit of my story.........Hopefully others will share theirs with you too.

    I would suggest reading these boards for further information, they can be very helpful. You may even want to discuss a plan with your doctor to find a cause and not just to assume it's from periods alone, which it very well may be. If not, it may keep happening. Keep us posted.
    Best of luck to you! FLFLOWERGIRL
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    Old 02-23-2009, 01:33 AM   #3
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    gemini123 HB User
    Re: Low ferritin & just given iron tablets

    Hi Shannon,

    I have had a similar experience to you also, i live in Chester and had similar symptoms that you are discribing. Had blood test and although i am not anaemic my ferritin was 8.8 on 19 Jan. Had a message from GP surgery to pick up a prescription and so i am back on the iron tablets again.

    Four weeks on and this week i have felt better, i have more energy,enough to get through the usual day. I had been feeling so low in energy that i couldnt get to Uni, or do the usual chores at home any excersise i was trying to do was an extreeme effort that i gave up. Usually i love going for riding lessons and jogging round the block but that was out of the question. I had lots of other mild symptoms sore dry eyes couldnt wear my contact lenses have been wearing my glasses instead, hair loss etc.

    Now i am feeling better i am about to go for a couple of days in the lakes for a break before i start second year at UNi. So even to think about getting out and about the iron tablets must be working.

    I take 3 x day and fortunately they dont affect my stomach. I have been on them before and i think i stopped too early so i am staying on them until i know my ferritin is high!!

    I went to the doctors to ask why is my ferritin is low and they have decided it is because of my periods. I have heavy periods for 2-3 days only then barely anything for another day or so. They have advised me to stop the blood loss and suggested the pill or the coil in my case.

    I have felt so rotten that i will try anything and though i do not like the thought of it i am opting for the coil which is one that releases hormone into the lining of the womb and so reduces periods by up to 90% and can stay in around 10 years. There are a couple of negatives but as i say i am that desperate not to go back to feeling so bad that i will try anything!!

    Try going back to the doctor and discussing why your ferritin is low and in the meantime keep taking the tablets...Good luck x

    Old 02-23-2009, 10:46 AM   #4
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    Re: Low ferritin & just given iron tablets

    Hello, Shannon, and welcome!

    I have struggled with anemia and low ferritin in particular the last few years, but only recently have I found a doctor who is taking it seriously (ha, probably b/c I've gotten hooked on small doses of prescription narcotics for ANY energy).

    My doctor put me on 325mg of ferrous sulfate 3x/day and sent me to a GI doctor to rule out internal bleeding, especially since I have a family history of colon polyps and have had an ulcer. The tests came back negative, as did the tests for celiac or other things that could cause malabsorption.

    Then it was off to the hematologist, who was obviously not concerned with a ferritin level of 13, which is the highest it's been in years. Her advice was to continue with the FS 3x/day for a MINIMUM of three months, though my internist says I will probably be on it indefinitely.

    You do not mention how old you are and/or if you'd like to have more children (and therefore might object to birth control pills to control bleeding). My internist put me on a pill that enables me to have only four periods a year; I'm 48 and the LAST thing I expect to have are more kids, lol.

    Like you, I had fairly heavy periods for years, especially after my sons were born 19 and 16 years ago. When you couple that with the fact that I wasn't on iron supplements all those years and don't eat much meat (no red meat at all), it all worked against me to put me where I am now.

    Building the iron stores in the bone marrow (which is what your ferritin level indicates) is a slow process, as others have mentioned. Make sure you take some Vitamin C with your iron to help with absorption; I take 500mg with each dose of iron. I also started taking a product called "Ferrasorb", which contains two forms of B12, folate, and a bit of iron. I only started on that this weekend, so only time will tell.

    If you're looking for a suggestion, I would encourage you to add the Vit. C if you aren't already taking it, adhere STRICTLY to your iron regimen, and get your doctor to check your levels again in 4 - 6 weeks. If your levels have improved (even slightly), then hopefully you are on the right track. If not, I would talk to your doctor about the GI tests (colonoscopy, upper endoscopy) to rule out a GI bleed. Hang in there!!


    Old 02-23-2009, 03:05 PM   #5
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    Re: Low ferritin & just given iron tablets

    Hi Ladies
    thank you so much for all your replies , they are very informative reassuring and helpful, Gemini123, I live in flintshire(only about 11 miles from you.. what a small world eh! ) Its interesting that you have had the sore dry eyes too as I didnt really know this could be a symptom of the low iron , mine were awful! Also interesting to read that maybe my period could be considered heavy even if they are only heavy for about 3 days. Flowergirl thanks for all your info too. Nancy. im 36 and I had my children in 2001 and 2003 and i know they check to see if your anaemic when your pregnant, but i never needed iron then so i assume it was ok,or do they only check your red blood count? not sure , i dont really understand how you can be very low in ferritin but the RBC still be ok , i have phoned the doctors to ask for a print out of all the blood test results , just out of interest to see what my other levels were. i have to say though the receptionist was a bit snotty and said she would ask the doctor if i was ok to have a copy(i have to phone back tomorrow) does anyone know if they are in their right to refuse me a copy if they say no? I dont intend having anymore children but when i have tried being on the contraceptive pill in the past i have not had any success.. i used to get sharp pains in my chest so wouldnt use them.
    Do you think that if i do have a blood test in a month and it is showing a slight improvement .. the chances are that it is probably just lack of iron in diet or heavy periods. I dont think I should have been so silly really to not keep taking the iron 3 years ago as when i stopped it hadnt particularly gone up by alot . I also read somewhere that a low fat diet can make you low in iron .. does anyone know if this is true ? As slimming world is a low fat diet, you are allowed meat but it has to be lean and any other fats such as butter etc has to be counted, so i have very small amounts of butter or mayonnaisse etc. and I know i probably havent eaten large amounts of meat for 18 months . I was conscious of my iron and tried to eat lentils etc, but i also read that high iron vegetable(non meat) type foods are absorbed as easily as meat iron
    so i am hoping that it will improve with the tablets
    thank you so much again

    Last edited by shannon2009; 02-23-2009 at 03:06 PM.

    Old 02-26-2009, 07:57 AM   #6
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    gemini123 HB User
    Re: Low ferritin & just given iron tablets

    Hi again

    Wow we are practically neighbours lol.

    I have had similar experiences of the dreaded receptionist I'm sure they have a tough job but honestly sometimes.....

    You should be able to have access to your results, just for our own records so we can keep track of what is happening to us. Apparently some may charge a small fee.
    These days we can even apply for a copy of our medical notes (I'm not sure how we can do it though) i think it costs around 50.

    Considering the UK government is trying to urge patients to be more involved in our own health care, remind the surgery of patient centered care and how the government are pushing for patients to take more of an active role and have more responsibility for our own health.

    The slimming world diet i have found helpful in the past but if you have more green than red days perhaps that may not help. (haem and non haem iron and ease of absorption etc)I have no idea about the fat and iron, just that we need a certain amount of fat.
    Having said that i eat loads of steaks and my ferritin is 8.8 so even though i have an iron rich diet it is not keeping my iron levels up enough on its own.

    My plan is to try and stop the bleeding with this coil, take the iron tablets and vitamin tablets and see how things go from there.

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