Formal Name: Ferritin (serum)
What is Ferritin test?
Ferritin test is the test that determines the ferritin level in the blood. Ferritin is an iron-containing protein present in the blood. The test helps the doctor diagnose and understand the level of iron storage in the body of a person.
When to get tested?
If the result of CBC (Complete Blood Count) shows that your body has a lower level of hemoglobin and hematocrit or your healthcare practitioner suspects that you have iron deficiency or too much iron, he/she will suggest you undertake the test.
If a person develops the symptoms or signs of iron deficiency or anemia, the doctor may suggest a ferritin test. The symptoms include
- Chronic tiredness/fatigue
- Physical weakness
- Pale skin (pallor)
The ferritin is also suggested when a doctor suspects that there is iron overload in the bloodstream. The symptoms of iron overload vary from person to person and the situation only gets worse & worse over time. It’s because unused iron accumulates in the tissues and blood. Some common symptoms are –
- Fatigue, weakness
- Joint pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of sex drive
- Energy shortage during work
- Abdominal discomfort
- Organ damage (heart and liver etc.)
For confirming the presence of iron overload in the body, the doctor can order additional tests (iron, TIBC) and the genetic test for identifying hemochromatosis as well.
How the test is performed
Before performing the test, your doctor may suggest you not to eat anything for up to 12 hours. For performing the test, blood sample is required. The healthcare practitioner will collect the blood by injecting a needle into your arm’s vain.
What is a ferritin used for?
Ferritin test determines the stored iron in a person’s body. Often times, doctor order the test along with other tests like iron level and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC, based on the blood transferrin level) for detecting low iron (iron deficiency) or high iron (iron overload). The test is also useful in assessing the current situation of those conditions.
Normal value range is –
- Male – 20-500 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter)
- Female: 20-500 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter)
If the result is nearby the lower level, even if it’s within the “normal” range, it’s highly likely that the person doesn’t contain enough iron in his/her body.
The numbers presented here are the general measurements of range for this test. The value of normal range may vary from one laboratory to another. It’s because some laboratories use different methods or samples for completing the test. You should contact your doctor beforehand in this respect.
What Abnormal Results Mean
A higher-than-normal ferritin level may be due to –
- Liver diseases (especially due to alcohol overtaking)
- Frequent transfusion of red blood cells
- Autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis)
- Too much iron in the body (hemochromatosis)
The lower-than-normal result can also suggest that you have anemia due to iron deficiency in your body. This type of issue can be due to –
- Taking diet(s) too low in iron
- Heavy bleeding from an injury
- Poor iron absorption ability
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding in the intestines, stomach, or esophagus
Anything else I should know?
Generally, most of the ferritin is inside the cells and only a small amount of it in the blood. That’s why if there’s the iron overload in the body, the additional ferritin comes into the bloodstream, increasing the normal level. The ferritin level can also be increased due to certain conditions like acute illness, even if the iron level of your body is within the normal range.