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Hi everyone,

I've been having problems with anemia off and on since I was pregnant with my second daughter. I've had the gamut of symptoms, SOB, palpitations, fatigue, etc., the worst of which was my daughter was growing too slowly prenataly--luckily iron supplements really helped and her growth caught up.

Not wanting a repeat of that 4 years later with my third, I was supplementing from the get go. My hemoglobin level dropped even further that time to 8.5. I ended up taking 3 SlowFE a day and my daughter was born three weeks early...

So now, a year and a half later, I start having weird symptoms again--palpitations, swollen feet and hands, SOB, fatigue, you all know. I went to the doctor and the bloodwork came back with hemoglobin of 9.7 (which I tend to think of as "mild to moderate" anemia) and my ferritin level is 1! Yes, 1. Why the discrepancy? The doctor was very agitated about how "severely anemic" I am--she said she would transfuse me except for the risk of HIV. I'm a little confused. Which number is more important?

I pretty clearly have iron-deficient anemia and now the question is why. I am a vegetarian, but I eat a VERY healthful diet and include many sources of iron. (Of course everyone secretly thinks it's my diet, but I don't.) I have an appointment with a GI doctor and wore a holter monitor last week--still waiting for the results.

So here are my questions--

(1) Which level, hemoglobin, hematocrit, ferritin, etc. is the most important number here?

(2) Are swollen hands and feet a symptom of anemia? (This one is new to me!)

(3) I'm taking 2 slowFE a day (three was pretty intollerable). Is this sufficient?

(4) Should I be seeing a hemotologist instead of an internist?

Sorry for the overly long post...

Thanks for the responses. I have an appointment with an internist on Tuesday (not the dr. I originally saw, didn't like her, but that's another story). Then the following week I see the GI dr. I am having occasional bleeding (no need to be graphic here...) so that is certainly one possible cause.

I am interested to see what this other dr. says about my symptoms though. The palpitations are getting worse, the SOB is almost constant, and I've checked my blood pressure a few times and it's been "borderline" high--systolic at ~135 (normal for me is ~105/65).

I am still menstruating, so this of course doesn't help things. I've been taking iron for 3+ weeks now and if anything, I'm feeling worse. I know it takes a while, but I guess I need to be more patient.

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