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My gp has told me this is the low side of normal, but he would expect fatigue under 50.
I've been utterly exhausted and breathless, can't get up stairs without burning muscles and having to stop to steady my breathing. Could this be to do with low ferritin levels, or are they too high/normal to explain this?
Your ferritin level is abysmally low and will cause symptoms like you describe and a few more besides (hair loss anyone?)
It really needs to be mid-range to be optimal.
If your GP is not playing ball and offering iron supplements, you could try buying ferrous fumarate over the counter (easier on the digestive system than ferrous sulphate) and building up gradually from one to three a day.
I have iron supplements which I have just started, 2 a day with orange juice. He feels the breathing is down to stress, but I'm hoping it's a side effect of the low iron levels so will go away! No hair loss though.
I wouldn't count 17 as "abysmally low" certainly not low enough in my case to cause shortness of breathe. I only get shortness of breath when low ferritin has turned into anaemia though I'm aware everyone is dfferent.
I get iron infusions when my levels hit 10 and I do find I'm symptomatic at about 12. Though to be fair I am used to having low ferritin levels so maybe I get used to it.
If your ferritin levels are being artificially raised by inflammation, but are still only 17, you are in more trouble than you know!
I stand by what I said earlier. When my levels were 16 (15-150) I was referred for an infusion. As it happens, I then got stuck in a row between the haematologist and the endocrinologist who had referred me and I ended up with a very apologetic endo and no infusion. It then took 4 years for me to raise my levels to 100, which is pretty much where they should be, but at least at the end of it I could climb stairs again!
Interesting article mrstweedle, thanks. I have quite a few of the signs, including ridged nails and sore tongue, which I hadn't even thought would be related! I'm waiting for results of a blood test for coeliacs. In the meantime I'm giving up wheat, as this would tie in - in the past few years I've gone through stages of stress and related crap eating (lots of comfort food - bread, cake, biscuits etc) which coincides with feeling like this, and it put it down to feeling stressed, when it could be the wheat.
Of course you should be getting treatment. Your ferritin levels need to be at least 70 to support various biochemical processes in the body and it is negligent to leave you with a level of 7.
If you can't tolerate oral iron and your ferritin level is below range, you need a referral to a haematologist for an infusion, otherwise it could take years to get your levels up to where they should be. I speak from bitter experience.