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Laura9

Ferritin Levels Vs. Rbc Count

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I have been gluten-free for 2 years now and have frequently experienced symptoms of iron deficiency, mostly shortness of breath and fatigue. My doctor only orders the RBC count (hemoglobin, hemocritin, platelet count, etc...) These levels all come back normal. Are these tests alone sufficient in ruling out iron deficiency? Is a ferritin or iron blood test different than the RBC count? Thank you!

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ferritin tests how much iron you have stored. Your body will rob all other organs of iron in order to continue making hemoglobin. If your stores of ferritin are depleted and you still aren't absorbing enough iron you may experience a precipitous drop in your hematocrit.

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Your haemoglobin levels are not an accurate indication of your ferritin levels (stored iron). My haemoglobin levels (last time I had them checked) were 'on the low side but not too bad' whereas my ferritin levels were virtually non existant.

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I was symptomatic with a ferritin level at 4. My hemoglogin and hematocrit most of the time were fine. I had shortness of breath and tachycardia and would fatigue easily. I have raised it up and I can tell a difference. I quit taking the iron for awhile, but I'm back on it so I hope to get it up more.

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Thank you everyone for your replies. I plan to see my doctor and get a ferritin test.

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I would recommend getting full iron studies (iron, ferratin, saturation and TIBC), B12 and folate tested, as they can all cause anaemia if they are too low.

Drs can use the full blood count because the average size of the blood cells can indicate different types of deficiency. From memory B12 deficiency can make the red cells larger. The problem is that if you have multiple deficiencies they can be normal size! In someone with celiac or gluten intolerance I really think a dr needs to test the levels in a more thorough way.

I have had chronic B12 and iron deficiency, and my full blood count was pretty much normal, despite my B12 sometimes getting dangerously low, and my iron never being adequate. I shudder to think how bad it could have got if they tested those levels only and sent me away.

It is always a good idea to get print outs of your blood results, as the 'normal' ranges are not always adequate, especially with B12.

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My family has a bunch of weird diseases. My dad has the opposite problem - haemochromotosis - too much iron in the blood. When he gets his bloodwork done, he gets ferritin, total iron binding capacity (TIBC) and % saturation (I'm not sure if % saturation is a number worked out between ferritin and the TIBC, or if it is a separate test). The stupid thing is that you could have a low circulating iron count, and still have a high stored iron count, in which case you wouldn't want to be taking any iron at all as it could do more damage.

RBC count really has nothing to do with iron. Hemoglobin is a good one to get tested too - this is what they use if you would be donating blood to make sure you were fit for donation.

So, yup, I concur with all the rest - get a full iron panel - B12/folate, etc etc. (stick Vit D in there too). Then you can make a better estimation...

I have been gluten-free for 2 years now and have frequently experienced symptoms of iron deficiency, mostly shortness of breath and fatigue. My doctor only orders the RBC count (hemoglobin, hemocritin, platelet count, etc...) These levels all come back normal. Are these tests alone sufficient in ruling out iron deficiency? Is a ferritin or iron blood test different than the RBC count? Thank you!

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