How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
There is very little chance of a problem from
having a blood sample taken from a vein.
- You may get a small bruise at the site. You
can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several
- In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood
sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used
several times a day to treat this.
- Ongoing bleeding can be a
problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (such as Coumadin), and
other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have
bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell
your doctor before your blood sample is taken.
An iron test checks the amount of iron in
the blood to see how well iron is
metabolized in the body.
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.
Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)1
| Men and
or 45–76 mcmol/L
High and low values
The values for serum iron,
total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), and transferrin saturation are used to see
if a low amount of iron in the body is from iron deficiency
anemia or another condition. The values are also used
to see whether a high amount of iron is due to
hemochromatosis or another condition. Other conditions
that affect iron, TIBC, and transferrin saturation levels include:
- Hemolytic anemia. This causes a low amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin found in
red blood cells. The iron levels are often normal.
- Thalassemia. This is a blood disorder that runs in
families (inherited). It changes how the body makes hemoglobin. The iron levels
are often normal, but ferritin levels may be high if the person has had a lot
of blood transfusions.
- Cirrhosis. This is a condition that occurs when
inflammation and scarring damage the liver.
- Lead poisoning. This develops from months or years of
exposure to small amounts of lead in the environment.
- Iron deficiency anemia. This occurs when low iron
levels cause a low amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in red blood cells. The
iron levels are low, the transferrin saturation is high, and the ferritin level
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This form of
arthritis inflames the membranes or tissues lining the
- Overuse of iron
- Severe infection.