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sorry if my post is a bit long! I was diagnosed with iron deficiency about two weeks ago. I wanted to find out more about the topic so I've been reading this forum among other things and I've found the posts here really useful! I've still got some nagging questions though.




first my story: I'm 28, female, and a few months ago I started having trouble with my workouts (running), symptoms slowly worsening. after a while I finally figured out it could be an iron deficiency problem...it was so hard to figure it out because it was not the trivial anemia symptoms.

anyway, I never had high iron levels in my life (I don't like red meat but not a vegetarian otherwise), but it was never too bad before: HGB in the past would usually be 12.6-12.9 and serum iron tended to be at the low end of normal range but still inside normal range. then I started running 1.5 years ago, and I had a routine blood test 6 months after I started running, the blood test was okay then, though iron was borderline (and transferrin saturation only around 12%). no data on ferritin a year ago. anyway, I was fine then, running fine too. but now, things seem to have changed..

when I got suspicious about a possible iron deficiency, I went to the doctor (just a GP) a couple of weeks ago and had a blood test done and a lot of stuff was out of the normal range, most of it is clearly to do with the iron but not all of it.


first of all, HGB is low-normal (12.1) so I'm not technically anemic. MCV is already too low though, so I guess I'm maybe actually anemic already? serum iron and ferritin (6) very low too, and transferrin saturation seems to be around 5%, virtually nonexistent eh?

I've definitely experienced some symptoms. I would get these symptoms especially when/after I'd get my period - btw my period is not heavy, just normal...I think so anyway. and in the past I never had problems when I had my period (not even PMS!)... but, in the last couple of months, usually with my period arriving, I'd start feeling pretty weak in the muscles and would have bouts of a kind of really bad fatigue accompanying the weakness. I had no chance to do any decent running during these bouts because my muscles would burn too much after a few mins of running unless I went at a really slow pace. on the worst days I couldn't even go up stairs without stopping - leg muscles all going crazy burning!!

the above symptoms would clear gradually and spontaneously within a couple weeks after the period/bleeding ending (it usually lasts 5 days for me). interestingly enough, I had the same symptoms for a couple of days after the blood was drawn to be checked. I don't know for sure if related or not. I mean, I was just recovering from the bout from last period, but I relapsed after the blood test.

outside these weird bouts I would usually have no symptoms, no fatigue, I'm not even pale, nothing - or I just didn't recognize anything else as related (maybe there is 1-2 little things but I'm not sure).
this is why it was so hard to figure out there was a problem with my iron levels. I figured it out only because I noticed that my symptoms in one bout resolved after eating extra protein rich food for a few days (these food usually rich in iron too)...

well, there was also a need for extra sleep but I did not realize this for a while. often I just couldn't get up until I'd slept for 10-12 hours. I simply felt very fatigued if I tried to get up earlier so I went back to bed right away and after a couple hours of extra sleep I was fine. I didn't notice this was abnormal because it was worsening so gradually/slowly. I needed 10 hours of sleep for months before it went to 12 hours. before problems started I only needed 8-9 hours.

I started an iron supplement therapy after the blood results came back. my doctor was a bit weird about it because he didn't prescribe a lot of iron for me, just suggested I buy some kind of syrup with all kinds of minerals including iron. I've been taking that but I also added extra iron from another supplement because I didn't think that this 30mg of iron per day from the syrup was going to be enough. anyway, I've gradually increased the daily amount to get used to it, I'm up at 150mg now.

I've had one more period in this last 2 weeks since I started taking the iron, and I did get a bout of the crap arriving with it. it was really bad, a lot of muscle weakness from minimal exertion like going to another room in the house or typing at the computer. never had it this bad before! I did get over this one in 2 days so maybe the extra iron has been helping a bit... I'd already been taking the iron for 10 days before my period came (I'm still bleeding a bit but I feel okay now). I guess it takes a while to really kick in?




here's my questions that have been nagging me a bit:


my first question is this - is it common or possible to experience these sorts of bouts with iron deficiency that is borderline anemia - i.e. just about to develop into full blown anemia? I'm asking because I haven't read about this anywhere.


my second question - are my specific symptoms common / related to anemia or iron deficiency? I mean, the really weird stuff is the muscle weakness. it usually would come up with my period. but there was one bout where it did NOT come up with the period, it was unrelated in terms of timing. that one only lasted 2-3 days though, it was about 1.5 months ago. but it was really bad, certain muscles got so weak, I could not even wash my hair without stopping a few times to rest some burning muscles (but walking was fine).
so, basically, muscles would simply start "burning" from a little more exertion. I foolishly tried running and muscles started "crying" after 100m or so, even though it was a really slow pace, so I gave up.

the weird thing with all that is that I have never felt out of breath or light-headed but maybe because my HGB is not that low yet... OTOH, when these bouts hit me bad, my energy in general goes down, I feel a bit of apathy, also I feel just simply terrible for a few secs/mins after a little exertion. muscles burning, and something inside my head going crazy like someone hit it hard (not dizziness, and not a headache, but something different - sorry can't find better words to describe the feeling).


and my third question - two things in the blood test results don't seem related to iron deficiency but maybe they are related in a way? my doctor said nothing about it when I asked. these two results are apparently related to globulin levels, see numbers below.


the stuff out of range that seems to be related to iron status:

MCV - 78,6 (low)
serum iron - 27 (low)
TIBC - 503 (high)
transferrin - 403 (high)
ferritin - 6 (low)


unrelated(?):

total protein - 8.6 - high (range 6.0-8.4)
albumin globulin ratio - 1.4 - low (range 1.5-2)

for comparison, a 1 year ago I had:
total protein - 7.1 - normal
A/G ratio - 1.8 - normal

as for the proteins themselves, globulin is at 3.6 where range is 2.2-3.6. (globulin was only calculated from total protein). I had the globulin at only 2.5 last year. at the same time, albumin went from 4.6 to 5.0, the range for that is 3.8-5.1.

the doctor didn't care, I guess because it was only slightly out of normal range, but most doctors are like that..

so, I don't know, is that stuff something I should care/worry about in the context of iron deficiency (or outside it)?




thanks so much for any help. :)





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