All you need to know about ​​Ferritin Test

Overview

Iron, an essential micronutrient, has a vital role in the body’s functioning. Your body relies on iron in red blood cells to carry oxygen to all its cells.

Both high and low iron levels may indicate a severe underlying problem. To diagnose and monitor these diseases, your doctor may recommend Serum ferritin. This test measures the amount of stored iron in your body, giving your doctor an overall picture of your iron levels.

What is Ferritin?

Ferritin is a protein that acts as the primary storage for iron inside the cells.

Ferritin is present mainly in the liver but also in the bone marrow, spleen, and muscles. Small amounts of ferritin also circulate in the blood. The ferritin concentration within the bloodstream reflects the amount of iron stored in your body.

Is ferritin the same as iron?

Ferritin isn’t the same thing as iron in your body. Instead, ferritin is a protein that binds iron, releasing it when your body needs it.

Why is Ferritin Test done?

The doctor can get clues about your overall iron levels by examining how much ferritin is in your blood. The more ferritin in your blood, the more stored iron your body has.

Low ferritin levels

Your doctor may order a ferritin test if you have some of the following symptoms associated with low ferritin levels:

  • unexplained fatigue
  • dizziness
  • chronic headaches
  • unexplained weakness
  • ringing in your ears
  • irritability
  • leg pains
  • shortness of breath
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High ferritin levels

You can also have very high ferritin levels, which can cause unpleasant symptoms, though these are very individualised

Symptoms of excess ferritin include:

  • stomach pain
  • heart palpitations or chest pains
  • unexplained weakness
  • joint pain
  • unexplained fatigue

Ferritin levels can also increase due to damage to your organs, such as the liver and spleen.

Causes of low ferritin levels

A lower-than-normal ferritin level can indicate that you have an iron deficiency, which can happen:

  • when you don’t consume enough iron in your daily diet.
  • when you have anaemia
  • due to excessive menstrual bleeding
  • When you suffer from stomach conditions that affect intestinal absorption
  • If you suffer from internal bleeding

Knowing if your ferritin levels are low or average can help your doctor determine the cause.

For example, a person with anaemia will have low blood iron levels and low ferritin levels.

However, a person with a chronic disease may have low blood iron levels but normal or high ferritin levels.

Causes of high ferritin levels

Ferritin levels that are too high can indicate specific conditions.

One example is hemochromatosis when your body absorbs too much iron.

Other conditions that cause high iron levels include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • hyperthyroidism
  • adult-onset Still’s disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • leukaemia
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • iron poisoning
  • frequent blood transfusions
  • liver disease, such as chronic hepatitis C
  • restless leg syndrome

Ferritin is also one of the  acute phase reactants. This means that when the body experiences inflammation, ferritin levels will go up. That’s why ferritin levels can be high in people who have liver disease or types of cancer, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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For example, liver cells have stored ferritin. When a person’s liver is damaged, the ferritin inside the cells begins to leak out. A doctor would expect higher than normal ferritin levels in people with these and other inflammatory conditions.

The most common causes of elevated ferritin levels are obesity, inflammation, and daily alcohol intake. The most common cause of genetic-related high ferritin levels is the condition hemochromatosis.

Disclaimer:

This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice or as a substitute for consulting a physician. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a healthcare professional.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/hemochromatosishttps://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ferritin-test/about/pac-20384928