Ferritin Test - To Check The Iron Stores In The Body

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Ferritin?

Ferritin is also known as serum ferritin level, while its formal name is ‘Ferritin, serum'. The ferritin plasma test is done to check the iron stores in the body of the patient. This test is done in conjunction with a TIBC and an iron test to check an overload of iron or deficiency.

Reason Why Ferritin Tests are Conducted

The ferritin tests as well as iron tests are done when a CBC test shows that the hematocrit and hemoglobin of a person are low and the red blood cells are paler and smaller than normal. This often suggests iron deficiency and anemia. Early on, iron efficiency does not cause any physical effects and in healthy people, the symptoms do not show up until the hemoglobin drops to 10 g per deciliter. When the iron-deficiency progresses, the symptoms begin to show up and then a doctor may order a plasma ferritin test.

Signs & Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Some of the signs of iron deficiency and anemia include headaches, dizziness, weakness, and chronic fatigue. As the iron stores begin to deplete, a person can experience drowsiness, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, shortness of breath, and irritability. As the anemia progresses, the symptoms become more severe. Leg pain, headache, chest pain, shock, and heart failure can occur in cases of severe anemia.

Children can develop learning disabilities. Some of the other queer signs of anemia include spoon-shaped toe and finger nails, sores at the corner of the mouth, a smooth tongue or a burning sensation on the tongue, and pica, which means craving for clay, dirt, chalk or licorice. A ferritin level test can also be done when doctors suspect iron overload in a person. The symptoms of iron overload vary and can become worse over time. Hearth problems, loss of sex drive, abdominal pain, lack of energy, weakness, fatigue, and joint pain are some of the signs to look out for. Doctors order iron tests as well as genetic tests to check for hereditary hemochromatosis.

Interpretation of Test Results

Ferritin levels are checked along with other iron tests. The level of ferritin is low in people who have low levels of iron and increase in people who suffer from hemochromatosis as well as extra iron storage disorders. This also happens in people who have had several blood transfusions. An acute phase reactant, ferritin can increase in people with autoimmune disorders, chronic infection, liver disease, inflammation, and few types of cancer.