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Help! Ferritin of 6 but not anaemic. Feel like a shadow of my former self :(

(38 Posts)
TheBananaFaceOfEvil Fri 29-Apr-16 14:58:53

I nearly passed out in a meeting at work two weeks ago. I went to the GP and had a blood test, which showed my ferritin is 6, but my blood count is normal.

I feel terrible. I'm absolutely exhausted. I can't concentrate on anything. I have a permanent headache. I'm dizzy and I get palpitations and feel short of breath just walking up my own stairs. I'm having crazy mood swings. My hands and feet are freezing cold.

All classic anaemia symptoms AFAIK, but GP says I'm not anaemic (because blood count okay) so it's not that. They've prescribed iron tablets but only one a day and they're not doing follow-up blood tests to see if they're bringing the ferritin up. (I've actually been taking two a day, but they don't seem to be making much difference.) They just say my ferritin's a bit low, but it's really common in women hmm

What can I do? I've already had a week off work, and I've been working from home all week this week, but I've barely got anything done because I feel like I'm in a fog. I'm trying to up iron in my diet, take the iron pills with fruit juice, don't drink tea or coffee.

Has this happened to anyone else? How long did it take to feel normal again?

TheBananaFaceOfEvil Fri 29-Apr-16 15:25:35


GiddyOnZackHunt Fri 29-Apr-16 15:32:12

Bollocks to not anaemic! At those sorts of levels you want to be on 3 iron tablets a day and for them to be finding out why you're so low.
It isn't something normal that women just have to bear.
I had decent circulating iron but was practically in need of a transfusion because my ferritin was so low.
Don't be fobbed off.

Backingvocals Fri 29-Apr-16 15:35:30

yes I had very low ferritin but all other blood counts were ok. I took iron supplements for a year and crawled up from about 7 to about 15. I the end I had the mirena coil to prevent monthly bleeding and that, combined with ongoing iron supplements, fixed it.

Be careful on the iron supps though. They can cause shocking constipation. After some trial and error, I use ferrous gluconate.

AuntyElle Fri 29-Apr-16 15:42:38

You can have very low ferrritin (and 6 is very low!) without being anaemic. But very low ferritin will explain your symptoms. I've gone as low as 6. The problem is that raising the level via supplements is quite slow. In some countries you would be given intravenous iron at a ferritin of 6, but not in the UK. Also some (often older) GPs don't take low ferritin seriously. My practice nurse told me this and said she'd been trying to educate the older GPs!
What kind of iron are you taking? Some are absorbed much better than others.

AuntyElle Fri 29-Apr-16 15:52:06

Iron bisglycinate seems to be the best absorbed and causes least gut issues. Take with vit C. Trying to remember the brand...
You can also take heme iron such as proferrin.

TheBananaFaceOfEvil Fri 29-Apr-16 15:54:36

Thank you all for replying. It's made me a bit teary (blooming mood swings!).

Aunty it's ferrous sulphate. I'm taking 2x 200mg a day.

Those of you who had low ferritin, did you have symptoms?

Sparklycat Fri 29-Apr-16 15:56:24

Mine was 4 and my blood iron was ok like yours is. I just kept taking tablets until it got up to just normal (21). I didn't have all those symptoms though, just restless legs and tired.

AuntyElle Fri 29-Apr-16 16:35:31

Aww, Banana flowers
Ferrous sulphate is usual NHS prescription but the hardest on your tummy as so much is not absorbed. Black poo! If you can afford to buy your own try the bisglycinate.
I have most of the symptoms you describe when it's low: tired beyond what I could imagine, fuzzy brain, etc. One GP didn't even tell me my ferritin was low, the next one I saw said "With a ferritin of 8, I don't know how you're upright,"

TheBananaFaceOfEvil Fri 29-Apr-16 16:41:55

Yes, I have black poo blush and a bit of a tummy ache, but not too constipated.

I'll try the stuff you mentioned. shock at 'still upright'...

AuntyElle Fri 29-Apr-16 16:42:35

Aha, have remembered: Nature's Plus Hema Plex.

didireallysaythat Fri 29-Apr-16 16:43:10

Is spatone effective ? DH takes it for low iron and restless legs. Easier on the stomach but I don't know if it will help build up iron stores quickly.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 29-Apr-16 16:45:03

I think something fundamental has been missed here.

This could all be linked to problems with the thyroid gland. Have your thyroid levels been at all checked?.

TheBananaFaceOfEvil Fri 29-Apr-16 16:48:29

Attila Yes, thyroid checked. All fine.

AuntyElle Fri 29-Apr-16 16:49:24

The Hema-Plex has B-complex etc in as well. So you could take suggested dose of that which gives 85mg iron and then top up with an iron-only supplement (eg Solgar Gentle Iron). But bisglycinate is so much better absorbed that you don't need to take as much as with the sulphate.

TheBananaFaceOfEvil Fri 29-Apr-16 16:59:23

Thanks Aunty.

Blueberry234 Fri 29-Apr-16 17:06:16

I have normal HB and low ferriten I get iron infusions under the care of a haematologist I cannot take oral iron in any form as it makes me vomit.

Kewcumber Fri 29-Apr-16 17:28:05

Blueberry same here though the problem is that I don't appear to absorb iron taken orally. I get some symptoms when my ferritin drops to about 10 - and I know that because I go for a blood test when I'msatrting to feel tired and it's always 10 or lower! Below about 8 I get anaemia symptoms even though I'm not anaemic.

It's well known surely that you get symptoms from low iron not just from iron anaemia?

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Fri 29-Apr-16 17:35:55

I had a ferritin of 9 and wasn't anaemic. I felt fine but gP insisted on prescribing iron tablets which I never took. The next time I had my blood taken my ferritin levels were normal.

TheBananaFaceOfEvil Fri 29-Apr-16 18:36:35

Kewcumber apparently not. My GP doesn't seem to think so, anyway sad

Below about 8 I get anaemia symptoms even though I'm not anaemic.

Very interesting. I also read somewhere that if it's under 20 it's almost impossible to get it back up through supplements alone.

EllenRipley Fri 29-Apr-16 18:52:36

That's extremely low and yes you would definitely get those symptoms from low iron stores! Ferritin levels should ideally be above 70 in women. Mine hovers at 35-40 and I definitely feel the effects when it starts to drop. It's one of those things that only a few GPs seem to take seriously. Ferrous fumarate is the best you can get on prescription I think, Floradix liquid works well... I got some 'natural ' iron online, I think the brand was sundown naturals? Feel better soon!

clarella Fri 29-Apr-16 18:54:42

I think I'm just weird but I've had bad symptoms twice now with a ferritin of 50, which my GP is now referring to as borderline.

Feeling AIBU, (as I do feel better when it goes up) I searched for papers on it and found a couple that said to look at raising above 50 if patient is fatigued, tired all the time etc. It's also supposed to be over 70 (according to GP) if you have restless leg syndrome (which I was getting and had both times it's been down to 50). The NHS endo said it was a 'bit low' at 50.

So "bollocks" would be my opinion.

clarella Fri 29-Apr-16 18:56:37

I've never been anaemic, in fact my blood count was slightly over first time. I think it might have been due to mild undiagnosed asthma at that time. It's since normalised and is good.

clarella Fri 29-Apr-16 19:01:32

I didn't read the whole thread, but it's popped up here a few times. I think everyone is different. Technically (when you look at printouts) 70 is normal, 50 is borderline but they are a bit hazy and don't define it as much as some other tests.

Sparklycat Fri 29-Apr-16 19:45:03

Anything over 20 is considered ok and not low but I've heard 70 is the optimum result.

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