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what are the side effects of having a ferritin level of 5
This is a hard topic. Some doctors say there are no symptoms while others agree with the patients laundry list of symptoms. Symptoms can be very similar to anemia symptoms. For me personally when I had at a 2 Ferritin, RLS symptoms were really bad and then over a longer period of time fatigue being the worst. And..... how could I forget the whole time my hair was falling out really bad. When I reached a 20 Ferritin it slowed way down. FLFLOWERGIRL:)
When my ferretin was 8 i could have slept night and day and just getting up in the morning to eat breakfast would tire me and i would have to lay down to get some energy so that i could get dressed. I also had no motivation, felt depressed and had been suffering hair loss for a few years prior. When i looked at old blood test results i found that my ferretin had been getting lower and lower each year.

The doctor i ended up seeing this year did further tests and found my thyroid had been affected to some degree by years of low iron, my vitamin D was very low as was my Iodine and my zinc was also low but not extremely low.

Now that my ferretin has improved, so has my thyroid and i'm taking supplements for the vitamin D and iodine as well as continously taking iron supplements. I know my hair wont stop shedding until my ferretin gets much higher, some doctors say it has to get to 70, while others say over 40. I noticed my energy levels really improve and take off to the point i can do some exercise when it got over 30.

At the end of the day every person is an individual and will be affected differently, some will become energetic when their ferretin hits 20 and others will need a higher figure. Some people get hair shedding, while others dont. You also have to remember that certain symptoms are shared by other health problems. Symptoms of low iron and those of thyroid conditions are very similar so your doctor should check everything thoroughly.
My ferritin is at 5 at the minute, although in the past it has been lower. This leads me to feel extremely tired, breathless, anxious and of course hair thinning. Flfower girl is quite correct in saying that some doctors dont see it as a problem (that is so long as your haemoglobin etc is with in the normal limits), its a case of finding a doctor that understands, if you are having symptoms.
The main thing is that you need to establish why your ferritin is low, any doctor worth his salt will do further investigations. Mainly in women its caused by heavy periods, but there is a whole other range of reasons. So id go and seek further medical advice.
Good Luck
hi, i'm new to this thread but like you have many questions. i too have a low ferretin of 8. my hair had been falling out for years and i blamed it first on having a child 4 years ago but as it got worse and more noticable i had blood work drawn. all my numbers were great except for my ferretin. an 8, i couldn't believe it but wore i didn't know what ferretin was or how to fix this problem. hair loss, not so much fatigue but anxiety. a heaviness in my chest which i thought was from perimenopause. found out my hormones were even fine and all these symptoms must be from my low ferretin. i am now taking an iron supplement along with trying to eat food higher in iron. so far all that i've seen in a month is an increase on my scale. i've gained 4 pounds from all this high iron foods i've been eating. my hair is still falling out not that i expected a quick fix but in a month i was hoping for a little something. i need help too if anyone would like to help me since all my doctor did was prescribe a pill and send me on my way.
lisafu - welcome to the boards and hope you find lots of info on here to help you out :)

My ferretin was at an 8 when they discovered my low iron. I always put my tiredness down to a hectic job, but couldn't work out why my hair was constantly shedding more than it ought to have been. After further blood tests i found out my iodine and vitamin D were both extremely low. My thyroid was in the area of what most doctors would class as normal and not an issue as my results came back within range. I spent ages focusing solely on my iron.

After my iron picked up, but a lot of the other symptoms stayed and we did further testing it was found out i was gluten intolerant as well as actually having a thyroid condition called Hashimoto's.

By all means your ferretin needs to be raised and to a much higher level than what your average gp finds acceptable. Even after your ferretin gets up high it will still take 3 - 6 months and even a year for some to see proper hair growth cycle. If your ferretin gets up high and you are still losing hair at a high rate then it's time to look into other things eg: thyroid, could your birth control pills be causing the problem, or perhaps some other issue.

All the very best and keep us posted :)
hi, thanks for your help. so i was taking slow fe and i switched to a iron tablet my doctor suggested. this tablet has more iron and i notice when i take it i get this burning sensation in my stomach. i won't take it today because i don't want to feel that upset stomach burning sensation again. i think i may go back on slow fe, although it has less iron in it. do you have any other suggestions?
i'm also using topical solutions but at this point i feel like nothing is working. my hair is always falling out. especially around my hairline around my face. all my other tests came back fine. normal thyroid, hormones fine, even iron fine, just my ferretin was off.
if you have any other advice please help...i'm getting nervous that after 2 months not a single thing has changed. i know it will take time but i thought maybe a small glimpse of hope.:confused:
I am on my third type of iron, which is chelated iron. It's a type of iron formulation of which there are many brands to choose from. It does nothing to my stomach of any real consequence (maybe some rumbly tummy stuff in the afternoon on occasion when I took it in the morning. I switched to the evenings and I seem to be fine.) I know for a fact that it is very well tolerated and given to children who are iron deficient. It's also cheap. I take a chewable iron (yes, it sounds gross, but it's really not bad) and it's less than $5 for a 30 day supply.

The other two types I took gave me horrible heartburn. :mad:
lisafu - i really can't suggest much apart from trialing various forms of iron supplements on the market. Sometimes it takes time for your body to adjust to the iron supplement and it's also sometimes worth starting off on a lower dose and working your way to a higher dose so that your body adjusts.

Depending on what is causing your iron defficiency, 2 months is not a long time. It took me 2 years to get to where i am now. Did they test you for gluten intolerance? Some people have had polyps in the bowel which were bleeding. I would look at all the possibilities. On the other hand it might simply be that your body doesn't absorb iron as good as somebody else. Mine was an incredibly slow take off and the higher my ferretin got the better my body seemed to absorb it.

As i said in my previous response, my thyroid was fine according to most doctors, but some people's test results can be out by a little bit and a lot of their symptoms can be thyroid related. My iron is good now, but the constant tiredness is still there and so is my hair loss. The tiredness is different to when i had very low iron though. I'll be seeing my new doctor regarding my thyroid on monday and i'm hoping very much he starts me off on some form of medication as i've had enough of this.

Have you tried posting your thyroid results on the thyroid board? it's worth a go. I also looked at my dad's thyroid results and his doctor told him they are fine, but his results are worse than mine and he is having the same symptoms as me.

It would be nice to trust all doctors, but unfortunately there are a lot who simply keep saying test results are fine when in some cases they simply aren't. At the end of the day you have to take your health in your own hands and do as much research as possible.
I originally went to see my doctor about low energy, irritability, some weight gain and sleepness bordering on exhaustion and depression. Turns out I had low Vit D (19) and low Ferritin (7). I went on Vit D supplements and Slow FE and after 6 weeks got my Vit D up to 48 (good level) and Ferritin to only 15. I know it takes a while to get iron levels back up, but what concerns me is the drop in the Iron Saturation Level from 34% to 20%.

My doctor suggested taking provera for heavy periods, but honestly I've always had heavy periods and really don't want to take the provera because I already have some winter weight gain that I am trying to get rid of and don't want to add to it by taking the provera (one of the common side effects). I also think I have SAD, but can't get my doctor to take me too seriously about that (she just suggested going outside everyday for an hour which is tough to do with 3 little kids at home and drink more caffeine). After doing a lot of reading I began light therapy and have noticed improvement in my mood and energy levels already. I don't want to negate all that by taking provera as she prescribed which may make me feel like I am going through PMS for 10 days instead of just a couple.

Anyway, after doing a little reading last night I discovered things about low iron that I didn't realize.
"If both saturation and ferritin are extremely low, you must discover why. Low iron is a signal that iron is being used by cancer cells or is feeding bacteria, or usually it means there is chronic daily blood loss. The bleeding could be from an ulcer or tumor, etc. The source must be found."

So, a couple of questions:
1) Does anyone have any opinion or insight on a decreased iron saturation level?
2) Has anyone tried provera for heavy periods with positive results?
3) Has anyone tried something else for heavy periods that worked well?
4) Has anyone gone through testing to get a definite answer to the low iron levels? Or is it just assumed that a female with low iron is due to heavy periods?

Welcome to the board.

I am on BCP for heavy periods. I am giving it a few months but at some point, since the child-bearing business is done for me, I want to talk to my OBGYN about shutting down the Baby Factory or something similar that is a non-hormone approach. More than likely, the heavy bleeding is causing the low saturation and ferritin. What the article you quoted means to me is that one should not assume it's just a hormone imbalance that is causing the heavy bleeding but should also maybe see if there is some other source of bleeding. This usually means a few rather unpleasant tests that many of us on the board here have been through.

My doctors put me through GI tests (colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy) and endometrial tests (vaginal ultrasound, hysteroscopy, and scraping). After all this, my doctors said "yep, it's the monthly bleeding and not cancer or fibroids, or polyps, or Celiacs, or a host of other things that can cause anemia". (okay, I paraphrased all that.)

So, if you get to the point where the doctor wants to put you on hormones to control your monthly bleeding, I would say go for it.

I was extremely averse to going on BCPs for monthly bleeding, but with iron supplementation, I can't deny how good I am feeling these days. Since you and I both live in the same region of the country, I believe we should be taking 1000 IU of Vit. D on a daily basis, which I do. It has also helped me feel better. I also have disturbed sleep due to pain from a herniated disk in my back, so anything that helps me with my energy is cause for celebration.

Blessings! :angel:
StephieK - did your doctor find out why you had heavy periods? For me personally, i'd rather get to the root of the problem rather than take something to mask the symptoms. My periods were badly messed up and at times very heavy and no doctor could work out why. They always told me to go on birth control, but i refused. I ended up going to a naturopath and after taking a herbal mix for a while it settled my periods and they became lighter. I have now found out that my period issues could be a direct result of my newly found thyroid condition. I will get hormone tests and other test results back on monday when i visit my new doctor.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people are low in Vitamin D these days. A lot of people with low iron appear to have low Vit D too. I was shocked when my test results came back confirming that not only was i low, but below low as was my Iodine.

With the Vit D, my doctor told me to take that at night after my evening meal as Vit D supplements worked best after a main meal containing meat.

My zinc was sort of low, but not chronically low, while my B12 was rather good.

My blood test came back positive for gluten intolerance. That can have a bearing on things too, and as i said in the previous post, i also came back positive for Hashimoto's thyroid condition, which can cause similar symptoms to that of low iron.

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