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Low Ferritin
Feb 23, 2007
I have a question for people with low ferritin. I would like to know how you are coping with it? For people with ferritin 20 and under, do you feel any affects because of it? Mine is 23 and I usually feel horrible. I'm extremely tired, my joints ache sometimes and I have very bad dizzy spells. Are you able to function during the day, get through a day of work, engage in social activities? I'm hardly able to do these things anymore, even though I've raised my levels some. It seems that even the specialists just keep telling you to take iron and eat red meat. I don't think the vegetable with iron are helping me much. Do any of your doctors suggest IV iron or a more aggressive treatment? It's hard to believe people can walk around with levels of 4 and 5 and doctor's just tell them they're normal. At one time my doctor was telling me she wanted mine at around 50, but since I've raised mine to 23 from 4 she just wants to leave it at that.
Re: Low Ferritin
Feb 23, 2007
I don't know how long my ferritin has been low but I think, probably for about 2 years now.

Several years ago, my best friend and I used to go out power-walking. We did this for years. Then I started to notice that I just would get so tired from walking. I remember at first I would start dropping out from our walks occasionally. Then I didn't go at all, except for by myself and then I really slowed it down and cut my distance. Then I finally stopped. I tried to blame it on all kinds of things--the traffic whizzing by, anxiety, etc. Bottom line is that my physical stamina was flagging.

Then I started noticing that simpler things tired me out. I chalked it up to being "out of shape." Again, at this point I had never had any blood work done. Well, I had some done for other reasons and my hematocrit, hemoglobin, etc. were all normal so no reason to check anything more out.

Then, last summer, I was seeing a dermatologist for a rash and he ran bloodwork to rule out lupus. That was the first time I was anemic (just 7 months prior, I was not). I then went through a few other tests and never had my ferritin checked. Finally, this past January, AFTER supplementing with iron, I discovered that my anemia was again "fixed" however, my first ferritin test showed that I was at a "5".!! Wow, no wonder I feel like crap.

So, how do I cope. I drag myself out of bed each morning, get my kids ready for school, and work a full-time job. I would be lying if I said that my job performance has not been affected. It has. I have VERY LITTLE mental ambition to do my job. I have also cut back drastically my *walks* over to the clients office and I do most everything via e-mail or a courier. I could walk there but I would pay for it in the evening.

When I get home at night I cook dinner and basically sit on my butt all night. I have a beautiful treadmill in the basement that I would love to use; however, I know that one night on the treadmill will equate to DAYS of fatigue.

My weekend activities are definitely slowed down. I used to be the person who would run around all weekend and shop, go out to eat, more shopping. Now I do very little of that and just stay in and work on my laundry and stuff and read.

I'm hoping to get this "fixed" soon. I just completed my GI studies (colonoscopy and upper endoscopy). The colonoscopy was fine but, lo and behold, my stomach was bleeding due to gastritis. My GI doc doesn't think this is the cause of my anemia, but heck, why did we do the tests then??? Doctors!!!!

So, if I can get my stomach fixed and maybe try to lighten my periods, take some iron, I can get back to normal.
Re: Low Ferritin
Feb 23, 2007
Gastro dr said is period problem, she won't care. Women's Hosp said is gastro problem because she gave me too much Nexium. Now they both don't want me. GP found me another gastro dr which she'll look at it in March.

I'm still living with it. May be I use to it when my heart is beating fast. I tolerate SOB, dizzy and ...... I'm still working, doing ton of house works and shopping. I've a very quick shopping because I'll feel faint and I need to run back to the car and breath. My ferritin at 5 since 1999. Could you believe it? Cholesterol and diabete dr wants me to do exercise! Minimum walk 45 minutes each day, must get sweat a lot! For me it is harder than become an iron man! I'm 5'7" - 76.6kg. I know I need to take off some weight but I didn't have a magic wand! Can't make it a blink will see the result! I'm keep trying and doing the best that I can .........
Re: Low Ferritin
Feb 24, 2007

I know we've discussed this before. My GI doc did agree that Prilosec/Nexium *would* interfere with iron absorption. In order to get iron out food, you need stomach acid. With Prilosec/Nexium you get reduced stomach acid, therefore, you get reduced iron absorption. It can also block the iron absorption of supplements. So, I try to take my Spatone Iron (which is gentle on my stomach) when I *think* that my Prilosec is wearing off. I also try to eat a grapefruit or orange with it to give some acid and Vitamin C. For the first 6 weeks I was on it, it seemed to be working as the actual anemia corrected itself. I got a very big jump in my hematocrit. I think I went from a 34 to a 37. As for my ferritin, I am told that this could take years to go up.

So, I think that the Prilosec/Nexium is ONE component of my iron deficiency. I don't think it is the total cause. Many, many people take this drug every day and do not get this. So, there has to be other factors involved. My period is heavy, but not terribly so. But maybe combined with the Prilosec, the two factors equate to anemia. So, I am considering going to my GYN and getting a Mirena IUD inserted. This will reduce and/or stop any menstrual bleeding for 5 years. You know, it just cannot hurt my situation.

Lastly, I have totally stopped all NSAIDS use. My endoscopy last week showed stomach bleeding. I had been a fairly heavy Motrin user (for years) and I think I was getting bleeding from that also. So, there are three things there causing bleeding. If I could "fix" just one of those things, I think it would go a long way toward improving my iron stores.

Pika, have you tried any of these things?

fjones--I see you are in Washington, DC??? Have you found a good doctor to help you with this. I am still at the GP stage of things (and the gastro doc of course) but am wondering if there are any good hemotologists out there in case I need one. I have to agree that I think, number 1, my job has been affected the most by this. It is just so hard to tell, though, as I have been in the same job for 15 years and am bored with it anyway. But, now it is to a new level of boredom and I think part of that is my medical condition.
Re: Low Ferritin
Feb 24, 2007
[QUOTE=fjones1;2818678]By the way, aren't you still anemic if your ferretin is at 5? Doesn't it have to be in the normal range, 10-291 to not be considered anemic, along with your hemaglobin?[/QUOTE]

No, if your hematocrit, hemoglobin, and RBC are all within the normal range, then you are not anemic--no matter what your iron situation. If those counts are normal, but your ferritin and iron saturation are below normal, you are then just considered iron deficient (without the anemia). From all the informal research I've done, some in the medical field believe that iron deficiency is a much larger/bigger problem then most doctors realize. Since no one really tests anyone's iron until the anemia shows up, no one really knows for sure how many people walk around iron deficient.

There is a pattern to iron deficiency anemia that is well documented. The first stage is some form of iron deficit (either by diet or by bleeding). For awhile this goes on and then iron stores start to drop. At this point, there is no anemia because we have lots of iron stores. The iron, over a period of probably years, gradually drops. When it gets to a point where it is very low or almost nothing, the anemia starts because your red blood cells have no more to draw on. So, anemia is the very last stage of iron deficiency. Correcting it works in reverse. With iron supplementation, the red blood cells quickly use that new iron and the anemia part often corrects in a matter of weeks to months, however, the iron stores take *forever* to build up. You have to realize that your body is using the Spatone that you drink every day. It uses it. If there is *any* leftover after what your body needs for that day, it will go into storage. This is why building up the stores is so slow. What also doesn't help is if you don't correct the cause of your iron loss. So you are constantly doing a battle to see if you can put more iron into your body than you are losing AND using. Does that make sense?

Have you determined why you have this? Is it from menstrual flow? Also, have you taken more than one packet of Spatone a day? I have not yet done that but am considering it. The Spatone literature suggests that you may do this if you want faster results and if you can tolerate that much.

Also, like you, I tried several different supplements (one from Whole Foods, one drugstore brand, and a plain One-A-Day vitamin). They tore my stomach up so bad that I was in misery. I don't know how people can take them either. My mom took Vitron C for years and never had a stomach issue with it--just constipation.
Re: Low Ferritin
Mar 19, 2007
Danagrace - it seems there are so many potentials out there. I know from just my own experience that Hashimoto's Disease has impacted my thyroid and that has been isolated as the cause of my anemia which has been ongoing and mostly not aided by iron supplements (when I could even stomach them). This is due to inadequate stimulation of red blood cell development in the bone marrow according to the literature they gave me. If they haven't tested your thyroid, they should just to rule it out. For me they just kept pushing iron supplements that didn't help and just made me sick to my stomach until I switched doctors and got a fresh set of eyes on the situation. Now with the thyroid meds I will then start IV Iron to push my iron stores back up and am hopeful it will be the final answer.

As mentioned above, Celiac is a potential cause, and there does still seem to be some debate about PPI drugs (Nexium, Protonix, etc) and the absorption of iron (I personally think there is a connection there but only time will tell I guess). Finding a good doc who will work with you to really look for the root cause and not just give up after the basics are eliminated is the very best hope though...
Re: Low Ferritin
May 8, 2007
I think it is interesting how low ferritin and anemia effect people in such different ways. In the fall of 2005 I had a transfusion of 4 units of blood because my hemoglobin was 4.3 (12-16), hematocrit 14.7 (37-47) and my ferretin was 4. At that time I was dragging through life but was still working. I had a some tests to see if I had a bleed but they couldn't find anything. My menstrual cycle has never been heavy so I doubted it was from that. I then started taking iron pills but felt better so gradually took fewer and fewer of them. In the fall of 2006 my hemoglobin was 13.1 and my ferritin was 12 (11-307). In the beginning of April 2007 my hmgl was 10.7, hematocrit 30.7 and my ferritin was at 3. I went back on my iron again and within a few wks my hmgl is 11.7, hema. 34.1. I will get my ferritin checked again in a couple of weeks. Anyways, I really don't feel bad like some with low ferritin seem to be feeling. I am working at a busy,stressful job. I am very active and can play basketball, ride bikes, hike etc. the only thing that is not back to normal is that I can't run like I used to. Once my ferritin rises I think that I will be able
to run again. I have found that I can hike up the local "ski hill" and have a nice run down that-down hill not requiring so much energy.
Hope everyone else is feeling better.

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