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Date of last update: 10/12/2017.

Forum Name: Hematology Topics

Question: Ferritin levels and always cold

 Lea_in_PA - Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:44 am

I'm a 36 year old woman of normal weight, physically active. My ferritin and red blood cell test have been on the very edge of the low range for several years, despite the iron pills my doctor put me on, which I have been taking for three years now. My doc is satisfied with the ferritin levels always being not-quite low. I am wondering if it's ok that this has not improved with the iron and hoping that fixing this will fix my problems of being cold constantly.

Test values:
Ferritin: 15
Hemoglobin: 12.1
RDW: 14.4
MCV: 81
MCH: 26.2
MCHC: 32.4
TSH: 0.3

All other CBC test values are in the middle of the normal range.

I am significantly colder than other women of similar body type - which for a whitewater kayaker is a dangerous problem. My monthy flow is light or average. Comparing pictures of me from 6 years ago, I am also sginificantly paler than then (I am a pale caucasian anyway) and too often am dead tired. I'd like to get back to being able to donate blood as well.

I also take thyroid hormone (total thyroidectomy 10 yeaars ago), birth control pills, a prenatal multivitamin, and calcium (calcium taken separate from the iron for better absorption). diagnosed with endometriosis 6 years ago, which the BCP keep under control. No other meds or health problems.

Please let me know what to think - where is all that iron going if not into my blood? Can I stop taking the iron if it's not helping? Is it ok to live with iron levels on the edge of low? Will getting pregnant make this worse?

Thanks so much for your answer -

 Theresa Jones, RN - Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:59 am

User avatar Hi Lea_in_PA,
Iron deficiency and insufficient thyroid hormone medications may cause symptoms in which you have described. My questions are, are you being evaluated by an Endocrinologist for regulation of thyroid hormone replacement etc, and has an etiology of your iron deficiency been determined?
Theresa Jones, RN
 Lea_in_PA - Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:10 pm

Theresa -

Thanks so much for answering.

I have a great endocrinologist; he and I are both happy with my TSH level (0.3), so I only see him once every few years, though my TSH is tested annually. My otherwise wonderful family doctor (RN, actually) feels there is no iron issue since the levels have stayed just barely inside the bottom edge of the "normal" range, so she has not investigated an etiology. Is she right?
After three years on iron I'm worried about why my ferritin and red blood cell lab results all always point toward almost- iron-deficiency.

So should I stop taking the iron, or ask my doc for some tests (which ones?), or something else? Thanks -


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