Ferritin Blood Test Procedure

A ferritin test is a laboratory blood test that measures the amount of ferritin in a person’s blood stream. Ferritin is the major iron storage protein in the body, so the ferritin test is ordered as an indirect way to measure the iron stores in the body.

The ferritin test is often ordered as part of a panel of tests that examine the levels of body iron and the effects of abnormalities in iron storage.

It may be ordered together with an iron level, a total iron binding capacity test, or blood cell counts.

Your body relies on iron to carry oxygen to its cells. Without enough iron, your cells can starve for oxygen, causing a number of unpleasant symptoms.

Too much iron can also result in uncomfortable symptoms. Both high and low iron levels may indicate a serious underlying problem.

If your doctor suspects you are experiencing an iron deficiency or an iron overload, he or she may order a ferritin test.

This simple blood test measures the amount of stored iron in your body, which can give your doctor an overall picture of your iron levels.

Purpose of a Ferritin Test

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

If you do not have enough ferritin in your blood or you have too much, it can give your doctor clues about your overall iron levels.

The more ferritin in your blood, the more stored iron your body has.

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 the ears
  • irritability
  • leg pains
  • shortness of breath

You can also have very high ferritin levels, which can cause unpleasant symptoms as well. Symptoms of excess ferritin include:

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

Ferritin levels also can become elevated as a result of damage to your organs, such as the liver and spleen. The test also can be used to monitor your overall health, particularly if you have an iron-related condition that causes you to have too much or too little iron in your blood.

What preparation is necessary for the ferritin test?

The ferritin test is measured in a blood sample withdrawn from a vein as for any routine blood test. It can be performed at any time of day, and no special preparation for the test is necessary.

How are the results of the ferritin test interpreted?

The normal range for ferritin levels is rather broad and varies slightly among laboratories.

Normal ferritin levels are higher for men than for women. High or low levels of ferritin are suggestive of an iron storage disorder or iron deficiency anemia, respectively.

As with any blood test, the result is interpreted together with the result of other laboratory tests and a thorough patient physical examination and medical history to establish a diagnosis.

Side Effects of a Ferritin Blood Test

A ferritin blood test is not associated with serious side effects because it requires obtaining a small sample of blood. Talk to your provider, however, if you have a bleeding condition or bruise easily. You can expect some discomfort as your blood is drawn. After the test, rare side effects include:

  • excess bleeding
  • feeling faint or light-headed
  • bruising
  • infection

Always notify your medical provider if you experience discomfort that seems out of the norm.

Source & More Info: emedicinehealth and healthline

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