Why this test?
To assess iron reserves in the body. This is necessary to detect iron deficiency or its excess. To determine whether anemia is caused by iron deficiency or other causes, such as chronic disease or vitamin B12 deficiency.
In what cases is it prescribed?
If abnormalities are found in such tests as a complete blood count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, erythrocyte count. If a deficiency or excess of iron in the body is suspected. In the early stages, iron deficiency may be asymptomatic.
If a person is generally healthy, then signs of the disease sometimes appear only when the hemoglobin drops below 100 g/l. The following complaints indicate the development of anemia: chronic weakness / fatigue, dizziness, headache.
With severe anemia, the patient may suffer from shortness of breath, chest pain, severe headaches, and weakness in the legs.
Children have learning problems. In addition to the main ones, there are several other signs characteristic of iron deficiency: the desire to eat unusual products (chalk, clay), burning at the tip of the tongue, and cracks in the corners of the mouth. In case of suspicion of an overload of the body with iron (hemochromatosis).
This condition can manifest itself in different ways, for example, pain in the joints, in the stomach, weakness, fatigue, a decrease in sexual desire, and heart rhythm disturbances.
When observing the effectiveness of the treatment of anemia and conditions accompanied by an overload of the body with iron.
Ferritin is a protein in the form of which iron is mainly stored in the body. It is absorbed from food and then transferred by transferrin, a special protein produced in the liver.
Iron is necessary for the formation of erythrocytes and is the most important part of hemoglobin - a protein that fills erythrocytes and allows them to carry oxygen from the lungs to organs and tissues. In addition, it is part of the muscle protein myoglobin and some enzymes. Normally, the body contains 4-5 grams of iron.
About 70% of this amount is just iron, "embedded" in the hemoglobin of erythrocytes. The remaining part of iron is mainly stored in tissues as part of protein complexes - ferritin and hemosiderin - which are mainly contained in the liver, as well as in the bone marrow, spleen and muscles.
Although ferritin is present in small amounts in the blood, its concentration reflects iron reserves in the body. When there is a lack of iron, for example, in the case of a decrease in its intake with food or frequent bleeding, the body begins to use the tissue reserve.
At the same time, the amount of ferritin decreases accordingly. Prolonged insufficient intake of iron can lead to anemia. The level of ferritin is low long before the symptoms of iron deficiency appear and allows timely diagnosis of anemia.
On the other hand, if there is too much iron, it can lead to its excessive accumulation and, as a result, damage to the liver, heart and pancreas. It is worth noting that the use of various tests showing the metabolism of iron in the body gives more complete and reliable information about the lack or excess of this trace element than the ferritin test.