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Dragon79 04-05-2009 07:12 PM

A ferritin of 31 - low?
I've been having hair loss and intestinal issues for years, along with a bunch of other symptoms. I'm always cold and always tired. I've had my thyroid tested by 3 or 4 different doctors in the past 4 years, and it always comes back fine. In the past few months I've also had some dizziness, more tiredness, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating. I went to my GP and these are the tests she ran:

Blood Cell Counts:
Hemoglobin: 14.3 (normal male14-18 / normal female 12-16)

Hematocrit: 40.6 (normal male 42-52 / normal female 37-47)
White Blood Count (for fighting infection): 6.7 (normal 4.0 - 10.0)
Platelet count: 270 (normal 150 - 450)

Nutrition Levels:
B12: 385 (normal 180 - 914)

Iron (serum) 110 (normal for men 50 - 160 / normal for women 40 - 160)
TRFN: 293 (normal men 178 - 312 / normal women 175 - 351)
TIBCC: 410 (normal men 244 - 424 / normal women 236 - 476)
% sat FE: 27 (normal 20 - 50)
Ferritin: 31.6 (normal 23-336)[/B]
Calcium: 9.6 (normal 8.7 - 10)
Protein: 7.2 (normal 6.2 - 8.6)

Sodium: 139 (normal 134 - 144)
Potassium: 4.2 (normal 3.5 - 5.0)
Chloride: 103 (normal 98 - 109)

Liver Function:
Bilirubin: 0.9 (normal 0.2 - 1.3)
SGPT: 17 (normal 10 - 60)
SGOT: 18 (normal 10 - 42)
Alkaline Phosphate: 45 (normal 38 - 126)

Kidney Function:
BUN: 5 (normal 6 - 20)

Creatinine: 0.92 (normal 0.50 - 1.40)

Diabetes Screen:
Blood Sugar (glucose): 89 (normal 70 - 110)

Thyroid Function:
TSH: 1.21 (normal 0.44 - 4.37)
Free T4 0.7 (normal 0.4 - 1.4)

She said all my labs were fine, but now I'm wondering about the low ferritin. My periods are extremely light nowadays, and I take a multivitamin with iron in it every day. On the day of the tests I was also taking an iron pill from the off days of my Loestrin 24.

Could the low ferritin have been causing the symptoms I've been experiencing even though it is within range? Should I see my GI doc about it or talk to my GP again?

JewelryJulie 04-06-2009 09:02 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
I doubt it. All of your numbers seem to be really good. Even your ferritin is within "norms." I have a ferritin of 5 and am doing "ok", so I think it is probably something else. Have you had your hormones checked? I am sure there are others here who can give you better ideas, but I would also have my hormones checked if I were you. It may also be one of the "fatigue" disorders. Best, Julie

Dragon79 04-07-2009 05:37 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Hmm, from what I've been reading here, some people still have symptoms until their ferritin is higher?

A few things I forgot to mention:
- I'm 29 and female.
- Hair started thinning when I was 26 and has thinned significantly. It doesn't seem to be getting worse any more.
- I was a vegetarian for 8 years and was probably not getting the nutrition I needed. I started eating meat about 2.5 years ago, but I still don't eat red meat due to my intestinal problems.
- The test results are from a few weeks ago. I have no idea what my ferritin has been at before that.

Audrey-B 04-07-2009 05:48 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Your ferritin is in the normal range, but at the low end. It wouldn't hurt to bump it up higher.

Your B12 is also what would be considered the low end of the normal range and it could come up much higher too.

You should also get your Vit D checked as most people tend to be low in that these days.

A lot of your symptoms can fit any number of illnesses. I was having quite a number of symptoms and i was constantly told it wasn't my thyroid. some years later when i visited a Trichologist for abnormal hair shedding he did a full thyroid test which included TSH, T4, T3 and Thyroid Antibodies. My Thyroid Antibodies ended up being sky high and i was diagnosed with Hashimoto's, yet my TSH was always in the so called "normal" range.

I also ended up having Adrenal Fatigue where my Adrenals were not making sufficient of the hormone Cortisol. If it makes too much or too little you can have same symptoms. Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue can often be mistaken for Thyroid problems too.

As the previous poster said, you also need to get a full hormone check. If they do a blood test for this, it needs to be done earlier in the morning.

The main problem is that a lot of doctors work off "ranges" and if they think you are in the "normal" part of the range then they'll simply say nothing is wrong. This is all good and well, but if you fall at the lower end of the range or higher end of the range, depending on the condition, you can still experience symptoms.

My hair still sheds and my ferritin is now up to 82. I feel my hair shedding is either due to my thyroid still being corrected by my doctor or due to my excess estrogen.

Some women's hair shedding is also connected to being on/going off birth control. Birth control can mess up hormones, or it can make already messed up hormones even worse. It's predominantly to do with estrogen. Most often a hormonal imbalance will involved estrogen dominance and some of the newer forms of BC pills are high in estrogen and some are even estrogen only. This is a disaster if you are already suffering from estrogen excess. BC pills also deplete a number of vitamins, especially the B group vitamins. If you are on BCpills you ought to be on a multivitamin to start with.

Aside from this i can't help you much. If one doctor isn't giving you the help you need, then you need to move on and keep looking till you find one who is willing to work through your symptoms and help you find answers. It's useless wasting time with a doctor who only views you as a number, not a person. I made that mistake and wasted precious years, when i could have done something much sooner about my situation.

Dragon79 04-07-2009 12:09 PM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Thanks for all the info. :) My symptoms all seemed to point to thyroid to me too, but it wasn't until the most recent tests that I actually asked for the results (and it took research to find out that she didn't run enough tests). My GP doesn't seem to know a whole lot about thyroid and I can't go see an endocrinologist at the practice until I'm diagnosed with something, so I think I'll have to find someone new. It's been very frustrating going from doctor to doctor with what seemed like unrelated symptoms and not getting much help.

I hope to find a new doctor that can give me more help than telling me everything is within range. In the mean time, I may try to add some iron and B-complex supplements, though I am already taking a multivitamin daily. You know, I've been on birth control pills for 10 years, and no one has ever told me I should be taking B vitamins with it! Thank you. Also, my birth control pill is Loestrin 24, which is supposed to have the lowest estrogen content of any of them. Still, it is something to keep in mind.

FLFLOWERGIRL 04-07-2009 09:10 PM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Dragon70--I agree with Audrey-B, you are low in ferritin and B-12. I also *think* that your T-4 is a little on the low side, but I am not well versed in thyroid matters as the people on the thyroid board. I think that you should post over there, but let me warn you that board does move rather quickly. If you do post be sure to post all information up front.

I also have a friend that had normal numbers "in range" but she had many symptoms that I have had. I told her to see an Endo and she did and ended up to have a goiter that was missed by others. She is now treated with meds. It's so insane, isn't it? I think that you should explore this as a possibliity.

You also need to find a reason for your low ferritin. If it goes on longer without building you can eventually become anemic. Same with the B-12, I do understand the not eating red meat thing.

Your other numbers do look really good. Take care. FLFG

Audrey-B 04-08-2009 05:45 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Dragon - it's not just the B vitamins which birth control depletes, but a host of others, from memory zinc and magnesium are just 2 others. If you are going to be on birth control then it would be best to take a multivitamin daily.

I can understand it being tedious going from doctor to doctor but it's better than sitting around not doing anything and simply having blind faith in a doctor who can't help.

Dragon79 04-08-2009 07:20 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Thanks Flower. I have posted on the thyroid board already, and the consensus seemed to be that I need more tests to rule out thyroid. Since I can't go see an endocrinologist at the clinic I go to without a diagnoses, I'm trying to put together the possibilities so I know what tests I should get. :)

I don't eat red meat because I was diagnosed with IBS a few years ago (red meat and dairy are two no-no's). However, I'm not completely convinced it's IBS since I never had a colonoscopy or other tests to rule stuff out. Probiotics are the only thing that seem to help me, which I think could point to a bacterial overgrowth. So a possibility is that I may not be absorbing enough nutrients. I have already been tested for celiac.

Audrey, I already take a multivitamin daily. It has 100% of the daily value of iron, the B vitamins, and other essential vitamins (C, D, etc). Should this be enough if I am absorbing the vitamins properly?

Right now I'm trying to gather information before I go see a new doctor. If the problems are digestion related, then might be better to go see my GI doctor first. I've got a sleep study on Friday to determine why I wake up so many times during the night, so maybe that will reveal something too.

Audrey-B 04-16-2009 05:19 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
With waking up a lot, i know my sleep became worse and worse until i began meds for my thyroid. The other thing which i know caused waking in my dads case was being low in either B12 or Vitamin D. Once he boosted both of those nice and high his sleep issues totally disappeared. I know there must be lots of other issues which would contribute to not getting a good nights sleep also.

The multivitamin you are on would be helpful, but if you are very low in something then you would have to supplement that particular thing at a higher dosage. I was very low in Vit D, ferretin and iodine. No vitamin pill could give me the sufficient daily levels i needed to boost all of these things.

In your case, i can totally understand the tricky situation you are in regarding your thyroid and an Endo. It's hard as most doctors tend to look at only TSH or they look at 'ranges'. This is how so many people go undiagnosed for a long period of time. Even if it is a thyroid problem which you have, symptoms vary from person to person, even though there are some common symptoms most of us tend to share.

If you do have a thyroid problem, i do know that raising your ferritin and having decent levels of all other things is very important. Long term low iron levels can affect your thyroid, but this is reversable providing you lift your ferritin.

What testing have you had done to see exactly what is causing your IBS? I do know that back 10 years ago i had awful IBS. I couldn't eat a thing if i was away from home. My IBS at that point was due to a yeast overgrowth due to too many antibiotics due to tonsilitis. Once i went on a special diet to starve off the yeast and was also on a probiotic and vitamins it cleared up and never came back.

IBS can be due to many things. Now there is medication specifically targeting IBS symptoms, but all this does is cover the real problem, not cure it. IBS can also be linked as you mentioned to dairy. Have you tried using loctose free milk and yogurt etc for some weeks to see how you go? The IBS is usually your system fighting back against something it cant digest properly. Have you tried taking a form of digestive enzymes to see if that can help?

In my case i'd have bloating and felt incredibly sleepy after eating. This was a sign something with my digestion was not working. My doctor got me to do a special type of stool analysis test and it revealed i was digesting all foods ok, except not protein foods. If this is your case, this could be a reason for the IBS. The same issue wont affect all of us in the same way, but in individual ways. For me it was bloating and malabsorption of nutrients, for you it could be IBS.

YOu are doing the right thing by looking for answers. You need to have all your questions etc ready for when you see a doctor so you haven't wasted your time and money. Keep a list handy so that you can add to it each time you find out something new you would like to ask as it's hard remembering everything.

Dragon79 04-16-2009 10:02 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Hi Audrey. My sleep study was on Friday, and I actually got a reasonable night's sleep. So I'll know in 1-2 weeks if they found anything. I am now suspecting that I might be low on multiple vitamins, especially if I am having any trouble absorbing them.

The doctor who diagnosed my IBS a few years ago only ran a few blood tests and did a physical exam. No other tests, most likely because I am not losing weight rapidly and do not have vomiting or blood in my stool. I went for a while not having any dairy, red meat, or foods high in fat. I did feel a little better, but still had problems. These days I eat some dairy with lactaid and still avoid red meat and foods high in fat. Diet helps some, but it takes probiotics to really reduce my symptoms (so far Digestive Advantage and Align have both worked for me). I haven't tried digestive enzymes yet, but I'll keep that in mind.

I made an appointment with my GI doctor to ask about other possibilities and to test for other vitamin deficiencies, but it's not for another 2 1/2 weeks. I also picked up some iron supplements to take until then so I can get a head start on increasing my ferritin. Then if my GI doctor tests my ferritin I'll be able to see if I have improved at all.

Thanks for the reminder about having my questions written down. Too many times I have forgotten something I meant to ask, and this is especially frustrating when I have wait weeks or months for an appointment. I've already started keeping a list of my symptoms, so I'll add a questions to it! :)

Audrey-B 04-17-2009 04:37 AM

Re: A ferritin of 31 - low?
Hi Dragon70 - Having no blood in the stools does not mean you don't have a digestive issue. I had a specific test done by a lab which looks into digestion via the stool specimen. Not every lab can do this. My test had to be sent interstate and they even receive tests from overseas. This makes me think not all labs have the ability to do this type of testing. So a routine stool test wouldn't show this type of thing, but can do the things like whether there is blood in the stools.

Anyway, see how you go with your sleep analysis and keep making your list. I'd be asking the doctor about digestion and enzymes to help digestion. It can't hurt to try them out and you can tell quite soon whether they are helping as your stomach would feel better.

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