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Specific Blood Tests To Rule Out Iron Deficiency

by Dr. Jason Barker March 31, 2021

Specific Blood Tests To Rule Out Iron Deficiency


Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia, and can be very debilitating for anyone that has to deal with it. 

We need iron (a mineral) to help build the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin. Hemoglobin resides in our red blood cells; oxygen molecules attach to hemoglobin and is delivered throughout the body.

When iron levels become too low, we make less hemoglobin and therefore cannot deliver enough oxygen around the body. 

It's easy to miss iron-deficiency anemia if your doctor doesn't run the correct type of blood tests!

Iron deficiency anemia will be missed unless you get all THREE of these tests:
1. 
CBC (complete blood count)
2. Iron Panel
3. Ferritin

A CBC test will show you if your red cells are small in size and low in numbers - that is a sign of iron deficiency anemia.

An Iron Panel will show you how much iron you've got on board, and your carrying capacity for extra iron. Both of these tests can come back 'normal', yet a woman may have symptoms of iron deficiency!

The Ferritin test is the clincher though - you can have a normal CBC + Iron Panel and very low ferritin - ferritin is your storage form of iron - if that's low, one can have all the symptoms of anemia, without actually being anemic.

This is why it's so important to test Ferritin every 6 months, especially if you're a female athlete!

Common symptoms of iron deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (extra heart beats)
  • Pallor (pale skin)
  • Bruising - mystery bruising
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Glossitis (tongue swelling)
  • Angular chelosis (cracks at the corner of the mouth)
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Eating ice chips is pretty specific to iron deficiency!!

We'll cover the ins and outs of proper testing for iron deficiency in the video below.  

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker


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