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Low ferritin/anaemia - any experiences??

(33 Posts)
Oldisthenewblack Fri 03-Jul-15 15:48:20

I'm suffering from overwheming fatigue, plus hair loss and other issues. Am on a mission to try find out what's wrong. One line of enquiry is my iron levels, as I know that low iron levels can cause fatigue.

My ferritin levels are very low. Two years ago it was 11ug/L, the range being 11-307. So, as low as it could go whilst still being considered 'normal'. I've been taking iron tablets for the past two years, and my latest ferritin levels are 30ug/L. I can't help feeling like that's not much of an improvement!

I don't fully understand the relationship between low ferritin and the Haemoglobin count, but apparently my Haemoglobin is normal at 13.8 (range is 11.5-16.5). This is exactly the same as two years ago.

My GP says that this level of ferritin is "obviously normal for you" as "the body takes what it needs". She did say that I could increase the Ferrous Fumarate tablets from one to three a day if I wanted to, if I don't get any side effects. She sees no cause for concern. Does anyone have any experience of anaemia, low iron levels? Any experience of doctors telling you you're "normal" and then finding out that simply isn't the case??

Obviously, I'm aware that low iron may not be the issue at all here, but I'm committed to pursuing every line of enquiry as I just can't live like this any more.

Thanks in advance!

TriJo Fri 03-Jul-15 15:56:21

Could it be worth getting your thyroid hormones tested?

Mulligrubs Fri 03-Jul-15 16:11:57

I am pregnant and my ferritin levels are low. My haemoglobin count is low as well. They've told me this is likely because I have had 2 babies within 2 years. Anyway, you say you've had symptoms like severe tiredness, hair loss etc but you're taking your supplements. I would say due to my ferritin levels I have been tired but not super exhausted and not losing hair or anything. So perhaps there is another reason for your symptoms, has your doctor suggested anything else it could be (like the usual thyroid or something?)

I have a blood test in 2 weeks to see if my ferritin levels have improved since I started my ferrous fumerate tablets and have been told that increasing the dose may be an option if the improvement is not sufficient. It seems like this is an option for you, so I wouldn't see the harm in taking a larger dose to see if that helps you feel better.

But certainly, I would ask about other reasons for your symptoms because as I said my levels are all low but I wouldn't say my fatigue is overwhelming as you have described yours. I hope you get to the bottom of it, I know it is frustrating when you know you're not feeling well but your doc is a bit dismissive.

brassbrass Fri 03-Jul-15 16:19:57

fatigue and hair loss here too have been on floradix but early days, fatigue has improved but too early to say about hair loss

I did have something similar some years back when the children were very small and I do think it is thyroid/iron/hormone related but have crappy GP so have never got to the bottom of it as I seem to come in within the range but I did discover she hasn't tested for the same things each time so you wouldn't be able to see a pattern as it's focusing on something different each time!

Oldisthenewblack Fri 03-Jul-15 16:26:07

Thank you for the replies. TriJo - I had my thyroid checked at the same time as my iron levels and according to the GP, that's normal too. Though, they don't test the T3 levels at the surgery, and from what I've picked up online, that can be important.

I should mention at this point, that I suffer from ME, but it's always been just about manageable, and I know that the exhaustion I'm experiencing at the moment is different to usual, which is why I'm searching for answers (possibly in vain!)

Mulligrubs - yes, I will start increasing the dose today and see if that helps. Also read that there are a couple of things that asist the absorption of iron, so will try those too (Vitamin C and L-Lysine). I do hope your ferritin levels have increased when you have your blood test. Pregnancy can leave you tired at the best of times, so you don't need anything else to render you knackered!

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 03-Jul-15 16:42:45

TSH levels are themselves not enough re thyroid testing (although many GPs only test for TSH). Such a result should never be readily accepted anyway as there is a wide range of normal.

Being hypothyroid can also result in having low iron levels. is a good website on the thyroid gland.

brassbrass Fri 03-Jul-15 16:49:28

yes I think they only ever tested TSH which on it's own doesn't tell you much

Mulligrubs Fri 03-Jul-15 17:14:42

I hope the increased dosage helps. I have read that liquid iron supplements actually absorb better than tablets, the one I have looked at is Spatone, in case switching may be an option for you if increasing the tablets doesn't help (that is what I will try myself if my levels aren't increasing quickly enough!)

Clarella Fri 03-Jul-15 20:17:09

Haven't read the rest but - I was experiencing awful muscle issues with ferritin at 50-55 after baby. But I have hypothyroidism which at times wasn't quite managed. I also was on sertaline for a while during which time I gradually got worse. Like my muscles were shrivelling up (no idea of sert played a role but it did mess with thyroid meds.)

In terms of 'normal' - both endo and gp never used this word till it was over 70, and the severe restless leg syndrome eased around 100. It got to 130 and I stopped taking tablets (ironically aunt has haemachromatosis!) as rls symptoms stopped.

Gp had said he could only give a med for the restless legs if ferritin was over a certain level - never said what but sources online seem (John Hopkins institute in U.S.) to say around 100. (But that's US)

Mumsnet gurus and health unlocked say over 70 if taking thyroxine / thyroid issue. Certainly my experience would confirm this.

I took 2 x 200 each day, first with a berrocca, second with a fizzy vit c tablet. Vit C seemed to be the booster for absorbtti on. It took 5-6 mo to go from 50 to 130.

Clarella Fri 03-Jul-15 20:19:03

Was also diagnosed hypermobile which gp thought was significant regarding muscle issues, ie why that level wasn't good for me. I still get flummoxed at how bad I was at such a level. I was over replaced with thyroxine for a while too so might have been that also.

Lagoonablue Fri 03-Jul-15 20:22:14

Coeliac disease? Do you have low B12 too?

I had ongoing low iron, b12 and folate for years. No obvious digestive symptoms but eventually hairloss and weight loss. Seems I had Coeliac disease all along.

Lagoonablue Fri 03-Jul-15 20:24:28

Takes up to 13 years for coeliacs diagnosis btw. docs just don't think of it but it is very common. Google it. do an online set of questions that may help decide if it could be that.

Clarella Fri 03-Jul-15 20:25:30

Ah read it now!

Definitely try taking your tablets with dispersible vitamin c - check max daily amount but I think I worked out one berrocca (well sainsburies own!) plus one 1000 vit c tab was ok. Think 2000 is upper limit? Though it gets weed out.

Check supermarket berroccas - some have calcium which inhibit absorption, I was also rigorous at taking at least half an hour away from food. I found sainsburies doesn't, and doesn't have aspartemene like real berocca.

If getting iron levels right up, and staying like that for a couple of months doesn't help, do consider asking for other checks too. Vit d affects things as does thyroid. Or just get those checks now!

Clarella Fri 03-Jul-15 20:27:00

Yep I was checked coeliac too.

Two women I know struggled to get iron up simply due to the vit c thing.

Hairylegs007 Fri 03-Jul-15 20:28:06

Ferrous sulphate from lloyds for low ferritin. Hair loss can be a result of low D3 and low iron. Take gel 5000 iu D3 daily. Get your B levels checked out.

Also gluten can effect iron absorption. Tea, coffee, grains, eggs all lower iron absorption too. Vitamin c increases absorption

Hairylegs007 Fri 03-Jul-15 20:29:59

I've also read that iron levels need to be 50 at least for hair. 70 for regrowth. No idea if it's true but I've read it on line a few times.

Lastly are you on the pill? The pill caused me huge hair loss

Clarella Fri 03-Jul-15 20:31:05

A month of x3 spatone sachets saw my iron go from 55 to 53 (plus all the rare meat I was having)! Only turned with actual tablets. (Sorry spatone!)

It does say 2 packets is the equivalent to RDA which is around 14 mg (I think?). Even though it's absorbed well it's still only = to 14 I think. You've been advised to take 600mg.

Hairylegs007 Fri 03-Jul-15 20:31:12

Yes and check thyroid too. You can do it privately at home if you can bear to take your own blood sing a given implement

Clarella Fri 03-Jul-15 20:34:21

No reason gp shouldn't test though - are you constipated op?

Clarella Fri 03-Jul-15 20:34:38

Possibly silly q if on iron!!

Oldisthenewblack Fri 03-Jul-15 21:43:53

Hairylegs - I'm not on the pill, though I first noticed my hair loss a couple couple of years back after I started on Cerazette. Stopped as soon as I realised. My GP was crap: "Oh, I've never heard of that before!" I could never take her seriously after that: she's been in general practive for at least 30 years....And hair loss is one of the listed side effects for so many types of pill.

Clarella - no constipation as yet, though no doubt I have that to look forward to it I up my dose of ferrous fumarate. I'll be looking for the vitamin C tomorrow.

GrinAndTonic Fri 03-Jul-15 21:48:11

I have low ferritin and normal haemoglobin. I took iron and vitamin c tankers for years and nothing changed. Finally a new GP told me that iron tablets were useless for me and prescribed an iron infusion. My ferritin levels are the highest they have been in years. I have one about every nine months or so f needed.

lagirafe Fri 03-Jul-15 21:55:41

I have iron issues combined with B12 deficiency and iron tables go straight through me.
There are injections you can have (never tried these) and also infusions which are a bit of a faff in hospital but far more effective!
I know the exhaustion and hair loss so you have my sympathies flowers

stinkingbishop Fri 03-Jul-15 22:02:34

Marking me place here. Big (6cm oval) hair loss at Xmas, downy regrowth now. Ferritin was 19, at v bottom of 19-300 odd normal range. Iron pills, went to 21, so margin of error. Ferrous pills, now 30, so not exactly Popeye, but. Thyroid normal.

I didn't know about Cerazette and hair loss. But have been on it for 3 years; surely it wouldn't randomly kick in so much later?


Hairylegs007 Fri 03-Jul-15 22:16:22

I think it takes months not years to get the pill out if your system

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