Taking iron supplements for tiredness can mask
an iron problem. Talk to your doctor about taking iron
Iron levels change during the day. Iron tests are best
done in the morning, when iron levels are highest.
The results of
an iron test are also checked with results of a complete blood count (CBC),
ferritin, and transferrin tests. The ferritin test is often better than an iron
test to see if iron deficiency is present. An iron test and ferritin test are
often done at the same time. For more information, see the topics
Complete Blood Count (CBC) and
A test called the siderocyte
stain test checks the number of red blood cells that have particles of iron not
bound to hemoglobin (siderocytes). Normally, very low numbers of siderocytes
are present in blood. High levels of siderocytes in adults may mean a type of
anemia, iron overload, lead poisoning, hemochromatosis, or a severe infection
When iron deficiency anemia is diagnosed, the source of
the anemia must be found and treated. Iron deficiency 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
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. Iron deficiency anemia can
be easily treated with iron supplements, but the key is to identify it and stop
the iron loss.
Hemochromatosis can be treated with medicines to
help the body get rid of extra iron. A procedure called a phlebotomy can also
be done to remove iron from the body.
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis:
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.