The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
- Very high ferritin levels (greater than 1,000
ng/mL) can mean a large buildup of iron in the body (hemochromatosis). One form of this condition is passed
on in families (genetic hemochromatosis). Some diseases, including
thalassemia, and some types of
anemia that cause red blood cells to be destroyed, can
also cause hemochromatosis. Also, if you have many blood transfusions, this can
sometimes cause the body to store too much iron (acquired
- High ferritin levels may also be caused by
leukemia, infection, inflammatory conditions (such as
lupus), or a diet that is too high in
- Too much iron in body organs, such as the pancreas or heart,
can affect how the organ works.
Low ferritin levels often mean an iron
deficiency is present. This can be caused by long-term (chronic) blood loss
from heavy menstrual bleeding, pregnancy, not enough iron in the diet, or
bleeding inside the intestinal tract (from
colon polyps ,
hemorrhoids , or other conditions). In rare cases, too
much iron may be lost through the skin (because of a disease such as
psoriasis ) or in the urine.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- Having a blood transfusion in the past 4
- Being a female athlete whose amount of activity has changed her menstrual cycle.
- Having conditions that cause inflammation in the
body, such as from illness or from a surgery.
- Having a radioactive
scan in the past 3 days.
- Taking medicines, such as birth control
pills and antithyroid medicines.
- Age. Older adults may have a
higher ferritin value.
- Eating a diet high in red meats.
What To Think About
- A ferritin test is often done with other tests
to check the amount of iron in the blood, especially the iron and iron-binding
capacity levels. To learn more, see the topic
- A bone marrow
biopsy can check the amount of iron stored in the
bone marrow. To learn more, see the topic
Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy.
- Because inflammation in the body can cause high ferritin levels,
a test result that is slightly high does not always mean a buildup of iron
(hemochromatosis) is present.