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Hi Osteoblast - Basically April 2006 my ferretin was 8 and then i took iron tablets which began to constipate me, then i move to a liquid iron and had no side effects, but progress was very slow as a lot of this over the counter stuff isn't strong enough dosage-wise.

In Feb '07 i saw a Trichologist and he got me onto a much stronger supplement, then i got IBS symptoms from it, then he got me taking organic iron tablets with it to settle my stomach and this worked. In March my ferretin was 29 and in May it was 26. It really killed to get that result showing that i was going backwards rather than forwards.

Due to the slow progress and the initial iron supplement he had me on giving me side effects he suggested that iron injections would work much faster, especially as i need my levels up much higher to stop my hair shedding. Also my thyroid is a tiny bit out and he feels it's all due to low iron levels for so many years.

As my haemoglobin and my b12 are good i got the go ahead for the injections. I wasn't aware that certain key things in your blood test had to be at the right levels before they would do the injections and they generally do the injections for people who are having difficult absorbing iron.

After creating this thread yesterday the muscle at the injection area (at my backside) became a bit stiff and sore. When i went to bed last night i heated up one of those wheat bag thingies in my microwave and laid it across my hip and derrier and today i hardly feel a thing. Maybe this has only happened as it was a first injection, i'm not sure. Will see what happens on monday when i get my next one.
Had my 2nd iron injection today and dont feel any muscle soreness like i did with the first injection. I actually don't feel a thing and i'm having no side effects.

I've been laid low with the flu for the last 2 weeks so missed out on last weeks injection. My gp who is doing the injections asked whether i had noticed a difference in hair shedding. It was nice of him to ask, but it does go to show how little gp's know about low ferretin levels and hair loss/regrowth!! I think he is getting educated along with me getting my injections.....oh well, at least i'm trying to educate him and hopefully he can utilise this with future patients. At least he isn't fobbing me off or trivialising my situation.

As for hair loss, well mine normally stops shedding quite a lot over the winter months. When summer arrives it will be a real test then as that is when i typically begin shedding monstrous amounts from early summer to start of winter.
I Claire, i notice you are in NSW too. I'm also worried about summer in a few months time as that is when most of my shedding occurs. Is your shedding all over or just in one area? Mine is all over and quite uniform.

My Trichologist didn't want me taking anything to stop my hair from shedding due to the fact that apparently while you are using these products it keeps your hair from falling out, but once you stop using them the hairs which should have fallen out do fall out. A gp i used to see once told me to get rogaine and when i went to the chemist the lady there just laughed saying that rogaine wasnt for people like me and that i'd be wasting my money and i would be better off finding the source of my hair shedding. Well the gp who advised me on the rogaine knew all along that my iron levels where out and that my immune system wasnt very good, but he just kept telling me very year that my blood test was fine. This makes me so mad b/c i could have done something 6yrs ago and averted all this hair shedding. I simply feel i'm in a much deeper hole now than i would have been 6yrs ago!!

As far as i know, you need zinc (among other things) to help boost iron levels, BUT, if you take zinc supplements when you take your iron supplements the zinc can stop your body absorbing the iron. My zinc, B12 and haemoglobin are all ok, it's just my ferretin. Also the fact that my iron has been so low for so long it has already started affecting my thyroid and moving me towards hypothyroidism. I don't have it yet as such, but my Trichologist has given me new targets he wants me to reach so that i dont end up with full blown hypothyroidism in the future.

I am really happy with my Trichologist. He has given me so much info regarding foods and vitamins and which things help with boosting iron and which things can hinder. He is also very knowledgable in how iron affects our entire system and which bodily organs/functions can stop working effectively if our iron is too low. He also works in conjunction with a couple of other doctors who specialise in particular fields and a professor at Sydney University whose field it is to discover why some people can't absorb iron no matter what. He hasn't sold me any thing which i felt he was selling me just to make money out of me. He feels my iron levels are the root of all my problems and simply put me on a strong iron powder, which had a few other things in it, plus complex amino acid pills to help better absorb vitamins and minerals in my diet, of which one is lysine as it helps increase the blood levels of ferretin.

Unfortunately for me, my iron still wasn't going up the way it ought to have and we have now moved to trying iron injections. He has had me do a very thorough blood test too and he has an extremely good knowledge of correct levels, which the pathology people simply over look and he has set new/correct targets for my thyroid, vitamin D and my SHBG hormone test is also a fair bit out (i'm having problems correcting my monthly cycles too). Dont know whether the iron has affected my hormones or whether that is a seperate issue at this stage.

As for extra hair on arms/face etc. I have not noticed any changes. I know certain drugs/pharmaceutical meds can have a side effect of extra hair growth in areas you do not want it, eg: my mum began growing extra hair on her previously hairless arms after going onto a calcium supplement.

Have you had your thyroid thoroughy checked out? Sometimes the hair loss can be thyroid related. My thyroid was viewed as being fine by pathology as i fell within the "range", but my levels are heading towards hypothyroidism. Even if your blood test shows you are ok, if your levels are a bit out you can have side effects from this. This is why it's important to have a good doctor who doesnt simply pass off your blood test results as being ok just b/c your results fall in the pathology "range". For some things this might be ok, but there are a number of things on blood tests that need to be above or below a certain figure and not just fall within the "range".

With my blood test he checked my liver function, magnesium, iron levels, folate, B12, full thyroid function test, hormones (SHBG, FAI, testosterone), zinc, vitamin D and copper.

As my Trichologist said, there are no super quick fixes for most people with low iron stores and that it can take a while to correct. For some reason in the last couple of months i have seen more baby hairs sprouting out all over the place and when i tie my hair back the baby hairs stick out and it looks as though i've had an electric shock!! I dont know whether this is simply the new growth that grows in over the winter months or whether it's due to the stuff i've been taking. Time will tell i guess.

I hope i've answered some of your questions.

Best of luck and keep us posted how you get on :)
Hi Claire - I don't know what any of us would have done before the internet and boards like these. It really does help to be able to read what others have to say and what their experiences have been.

If you don't mind me asking, when they tested your iron levels last, what was your result for ferretin? The trichologist i have seen said that even alopecia can be brought on much earlier in life than it would normally occur (if you were to be predisposed to it eg: genetically) if your ferretin levels are low or have been low over a long period of time.

From reading other people's posts it appears that some doctors don't have an understanding how iron levels can relate in some people to more hair shedding than is normal. I know that there are other factors which can contribute to hair loss too, but if those other factors are pretty much ruled out and you know your iron is very low then it's worth building up your levels and keeping them there to see what will happen. Most doctors who understand will usually say that you should get your ferretin up to 70 and keep it there for 3 - 6 months, while other doctors will have a patient with a ferretin level in the 20's and will say that all is fine.

As for the iron injections, reading the pamphlet which comes with the injections it states that the injections can't be given to people with a number of conditions eg: low b12. Your doctor is possibly right in not going ahead with the injections which if administered incorrectly can have very bad side effects. On the other hand there are doctors who think injections are extreme and don't think it's necessary, when in fact they could be of benefit.

The only advice i can give is not to quit. I can honestly say that the only doctor who was of benefit to me and had what i felt to be a high degree of understand was the Trichologist. I went to a dermatologist, which was a waste of time. Later i found out that not ALL dermatologists are qualified in the hair loss department, only a small number of them are. Going to the Trichologist was a last ditch effort as i felt i had exhausted all my other avenues. I found the one i go to over the net. I did lots of research, phoned a few of them, asked questions and at the end he seemed most genuinely interested and knowledgeable, but then he does also have a medical background and isn't just one of those people who did a short term course and are in it for the money. Well that's my personal view on how he appears to me anyway. He works at Glebe and at Sutherland. He is at Glebe 2 days per week. I don't think we can give phone numbers on here, but if you look him up on the net it gives his contact number. Often you have to leave a message and he phones you back. If you are really worried it might be worth phoning and explaining your situation and he can tell you what he may or may not be able to do for you. I can't give any guarantees as your situation is a little different to mine.

As for your zinc and iron, they are both important, but i wouldn't be taking a zinc supplement at the same time as you take an iron supplement as the zinc can cancel out some of your iron absorbtion. Best to take them a number of hours apart.

If i think of anything else i will post it on here. I know it's hard not to stress, but stress wont be doing any good. Your best bet is to keep up with the research and find out what can/t be done and then work with that. All the best :)
Hi Claire - Most of your results are actually better than mine, so you are fortunate there. The thing you have to remember is that unfortunately no medication will work over night eg: even once your ferretin levels get to the correct amount, it still takes on average anywhere from 3 to 6 months (even 12 months for some) to develop a proper growth cycle for their hair and that is if the ferretin levels stay elevated.

I'm not a doctor, but from what i've been told each time i've had my blood test was not to look at the actual "iron" level as that changes throughout the day according to what you have eaten. The one to keep an eye on is the ferretin. The highest i got to was 29 for ferretin, then dropped to 26, obviously what i was taking wasn't right for me, but it has worked for others. If you have gotten from 26 to 43 just on the iron supplements then that is great. I wish i could have done that. I got my 4th iron injection last night and it hurt all night. Don't know why it hurts when he does it in my right bottom cheek but not the left one!! If Tony has suggested the injections i would find a different gp to administer it, unless your gp has actual reasons for not wanting to do it. I would ask your gp what the reasons are.

Your zinc appears to be good now, mine is 13 and he said that was fine and yours is 13.2 so that's a big improvement for you.

My TSH is 3.46 and he wants me at 0.2 and i have done some research on the net where i also found the 0.2 figure mentioned as being a good figure to be at if possible. I don't know how to get my TSH down, but Tony believes once the ferretin sorts itself out that in time the Thyroid issue resolves itself. He feels that long term low ferretin leads to the Thyroid levels becoming anything from mildly to severly out of balance. I hope he is right as i dont want to go from an iron problem being fixed and find out i've got a never ending Thyroid issue.

The only other thing i noticed in your list of results was your testosterone which is 0.7 and the pathology range is 0.7 - 2.8 so you are at the bottom of the range. Now i'm not sure if that figure changes according to what stage of your monthly cycle you are in or not. You would need to speak to your dr or Tony on that issue. I got 0.9 in my result and Tony didnt say anything whereas on any of the other things where he felt i was too low or too high he set new targets for me to reach.

The only other thing with me was my hormone test. The SHBG came in at 16 and considering the time of my monthly cycle i should come up between 48 - 185. Tony would like to see me reach 80 - 110. I've done research on this also on the net and it's not something you can easily fix apparently. Maybe this is why my monthly cycles have been all over the place for years and why i couldn't fall pregnant. I used to have normal monthly cycles until dr's began giving me fertility drugs and it messed everything up. I wish i'd not taken any of the medication given to me. I'm currently on daily drops given to me by a naturopath and this has helped so much, but every time they try to take me off them i go back to square one. The only other treatment is going on birth control, but some people have had hair loss with that,plus i've had other side effects from it when i have gone on it. Who knows, maybe once my iron is corrected everything might fall into place as the time frame for everything going of course is roughly the same as it all started happening in 2000-2001.

Just keep doing what you are doing and if you arent sure of anything you can always consult Tony as he seems quite easy going and helpful. You must also remember that getting things corrected takes time and it all works differently for all of us as we are all individuals and our bodys react to things differently from one another. Don't focus too strongly at this stage on a 100% recovery in a short space of time. Focus instead on a 25% or a 50% recovery.

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