Contributed by- Dr. Dhrity Vats
Did you know that the red colour of the blood is due to presence of iron content in it? The iron content is famously known as hemoglobin. Hemoglobin binds with oxygen, our body depends completely on the iron in the blood to carry oxygen to all the cells.
Iron is basically protein in your blood which is an important part of hemoglobin. Iron is required in the body to make red blood cells and muscles. Iron is supplemented to the body by different kinds of fortified food items and minerals supplemented by medicines.
A blood test to evaluate iron studies would show the amount of iron in the blood, either less or more. The blood is tested on three parameters which are
- Serum iron test that measures the amount of iron in your blood.
- Ferritin test which measures the amount of ferritin in your body. This is the form of protein that stores iron in your cells.
- Transferrin test (or total iron binding capacity, or TIBC test), to see how well iron is transported in your blood
Difference Between Normal Hb Test And Ferritin Test
Hemoglobin and the full blood count test is the most common test done to check anemia. Individuals with low hemoglobin are at a higher risk of anemia. Sometimes, patients with normal hemoglobin levels might be at an early stage of anemia which might go unnoticed. So, a ferritin test is done as the condition develops gradually with the earliest indicator being low levels of ferritin. The hemoglobin shows decrease when the ferritin levels go drastically down. Even in cases of high iron the test should be performed to check the overload of iron.
Who Should Undergo A Ferritin Test?
The body shows symptoms of both low iron leading to anemia and high iron levels which is commonly known as a disease called hemochromatosis.
Symptoms of low iron include:
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ear
- Loss of taste in the tongue
- Hair loss
- Pale skin
- Fast heartbeat
Symptoms of high iron include:
- Joint pain
- Darkening of the skin
- Weakness or a lack of energy
- Stomach pain
How Is The Test Performed?
The test for iron and ferritin levels are done like any other blood test. A sample of blood is taken from the vein in your arm.
When there is a change in your hemoglobin and you have been feeling symptoms of low or high iron levels you can get yourself tested and co-relate from the following reference ranges:
Reference range for the parameters are stated below:
|PARAMETERS RANGE IN MEN RANGE IN WOMEN|
|Serum iron 55-160mg/dl 40-155mg/dl|
|Ferritin 12-300ngms/ml 12-150ngms/ml|
|Tibc 240-450 mgms/dl 240-450 mgms/dl|
What If The Iron And Ferritin Levels Are Low?
If your levels of iron and ferritin are found to be low, it indicates an iron deficiency anemia. Other reasons could also be heavy menstrual cycle or pregnancy in females. The treatment of this mainly focuses on iron fortified food products like liver, nuts, raisins, brown rice, spinach, pumpkin seeds etc. There has to be a continuous intake of iron even in the form of supplements until the iron levels are restored. The commonly given supplement is ferrous sulphate in the form of tablets twice or thrice a day, which is easily absorbed in the body. It sometimes might cause side effects like nausea and constipation or diarrhea.
What If The Iron And Ferritin Levels Are High?
This is considered to be a medical emergency where an immediate phlebotomy is done where the blood is removed from the body to reduce the iron levels. This is done on a treatment basis under hospitalization. A continuous diet chart is maintained and iron intake is controlled in the menu. Alcohol should be strictly stopped, avoid any vitamin supplements. Vitamin C enhances the iron binding capacity so the intake should be monitored. If left untreated, high blood iron can result in severe complications, including liver failure, liver cancer, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.
Knowing about tests only empowers you towards a much healthier and aware you.
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