A ferritin test is used to measure the ferritin level in your blood. Ferritin is a protein present in your blood. It contains iron. Hence, the ferritin test helps your doctor in measuring level of iron storage in the body.
A lower ferritin level represents lower iron stores in your body. Lower iron level is defined as iron deficiency and it leads to anemia. A higher ferritin level indicates higher iron stores.
It points to the conditions where our body is storing too much iron or rheumatoid arthritis, or liver disease, or other inflammatory conditions or hyperthyroidism . Some types of cancer also can cause your blood ferritin level to be high.
Why is Ferritin Test done?
Your doctor may suggest that you take a ferritin test for any of the following conditions:
- If your doctor suspects that you have anemia
- If you have symptoms like fatigue, weakness, dizziness and fainting frequently
- You may have to take a ferritin test if you have Hemochromatosis, which is a condition where your body absorbs iron more than is needed.
- Your doctor will prescribe a ferritin test if you have liver-related issues.
- If you have iron deficiency, you have to take a ferritin test to measure the exact level pf iron stores in your body.
Before the procedure
The ferritin test is a simple blood test:
- You don’t have to make any changes in your diet. But consult your doctor and discuss with him/her if any alterations are needed.
- Notify your doctor regarding the medications you are taking. You can continue taking your medicine as a ferritin test is a simple blood test. But in rare cases, your doctor may request you to stop taking the medicines for a temporary period.
- You may have to fast for a particular period before the test. Consult your doctor and know more details about your fast from your doctor.
- Let your doctor know about your habits like smoking and alcohol consumption.
During the procedure
The ferritin test is quick and straightforward. It takes only 10-15 minutes, and you can go home after the test.
- Your health care personnel will take you to an outpatient ward.
- Your medical aid will clean the site of injection with cotton and alcohol.
- Your nurse will collect a sample of your blood by inserting the needle into your arm.
- Your health care aid will press the site of injection with cotton to stop the blood flow.
- The medical assistant will then store your blood sample.
- Your blood sample will be sent to a medical laboratory for the testing process.
- You return to your home and visit your doctor when your results arrive.
After the procedure
The ferritin test is a quick, non-invasive procedure. So, you can resume your normal lifestyle without any delay.
- You may experience a prickling sensation at the site of injection. But that is temporary and will be healed within 2-5 minutes.
- You can use a cotton ball and hold it tight on your skin at the injection site to prevent blood flow.
- Your injection spot might swell up and leave a scar. But that’s for a temporary period. It will heal within the first few days.
The ideal ferritin levels are as given below:
- Male: 24 micrograms per liter to 336 micrograms per liter.
- Female: 11 micrograms per liter to 307 micrograms per liter.
A lower score compared to this ideal range can mean any of the following:
- A lower score indicates that you have an iron deficiency. That means you don’t have adequate amounts of iron in your body.
- It might also indicate that you have anemia.
After evaluating your iron levels, your doctor will chalk out a plan to identify the cause of your iron deficiency.
A higher ferritin range can mean any of the following conditions mentioned below:
- Some types of cancer cause your iron levels to increase drastically. Hence, a higher ferritin range is sometimes associated with few types of cancer. However, it may not always be cancer. And to confirm your condition, your doctor will prescribe additional tests.
- You might have Hemochromatosis.
- There are chances you might have porphyria. It is a health condition because of an enzyme deficiency. It can have an impact on your nervous system and skin as well.
- Rheumatoid arthritis or another chronic inflammatory disorder
- Alcohol and other substance abuse may also increase your iron levels.
- There might be an overdose of iron supplements.
- You might be having hyperthyroidism.
- Liver disease may also be one of the reasons behind the high ferritin score.
The ferritin blood test is a simple, non-invasive blood test. So, you don’t have to worry about significant complications. However, you can still expect a couple of minor discomforts:
- Bruising at the site of injection. But it will heal within 1-2 days.
- Sometimes, you may get infections. But it happens in very rare cases only when the needles are unsterilized or reused.
A ferritin test is a quick and straightforward test. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above or suspect that your iron levels are dwindling, you should consult your doctor and get your iron levels checked with the ferritin test.
Frequently Added Questions (FAQs):
Should I get admitted to the hospital before the test?
The ferritin test is a simple outpatient test. So, you can visit the hospital an hour ahead of the test and leave immediately after the test.
How much time does it take?
The ferritin test is quickly done, and takes only 10 to 15 minutes.
Can I consume alcohol after the test?
You can consume alcohol at moderate levels if your test results state that you are free of liver diseases.
Can pregnant women take this test?
Even pregnant women can take this test. However, consult your doctor to make sure that you can take the test.
Should I stop consuming alcohol before the test?
Sometimes, consumption of alcohol before the test may cause the results to vary. So, please consult your doctor and seek his or her suggestion.