Total Iron Binding Capacity
Total iron binding capacity is a blood test to check for levels of iron in the blood. Doctors may give this test along with transferrin tests to check for signs of anemia.
If TIBC levels are high, it may indicate low iron in the blood due to iron deficiency anemia. TIBC levels may be low in some other cases of anemia as well, such as anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells.
Do All People With Iron Deficiency Have Anemia
Iron deficiency refers to a decrease in the amount of iron stored in the body, while iron deficiency anemia refers to a drop in the number of red blood cells , hemoglobin and hematocrit caused by not having enough stored iron . It typically takes several weeks after iron stores are depleted for the hemoglobin level to decrease and production of RBCs to be affected and for anemia to develop. There usually are few symptoms seen in the early stages of iron deficiency, but as the condition worsens and blood levels of hemoglobin and RBCs decrease, ongoing weakness, pallor, and fatigue can eventually develop.
As your iron continues to be depleted, you may have shortness of breath and dizziness. If the anemia is severe, chest pain, headaches, and leg pains may occur. Children may develop learning disabilities. Besides the general symptoms of anemia, there are certain symptoms that are characteristic of iron deficiency. These include dysphagia, pica , a burning sensation in the tongue or a smooth tongue, sores at the corners of the mouth, and spoon-shaped fingernails and toenails.
How To Prepare For The Test
Iron level can change, depending on how recently you ingested iron. Your health care provider will likely have you do this test in the morning or after fasting.
Certain medicines may affect the results of this test. Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines. Do not stop any medicine before talking to your provider.
Medicines that can affect the test result include:
- Birth control pills and estrogens
- Blood pressure drugs
- Gout drugs
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Ask A Laboratory Scientist
This form enables patients to ask specific questions about lab tests. Your questions will be answered by a laboratory scientist as part of a voluntary service provided by one of our partners, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. Please allow 2-3 business days for an email response from one of the volunteers on the Consumer Information Response Team.
You Have A Condition That Could Interfere With Iron Absorption
Decreased iron absorption is one cause of iron deficiency. Conditions that interfere with the normal ability of the digestive tract to absorb nutrients, such as celiac disease, can cause this. Surgeries that alter the digestive tract, such as bariatric surgery, can cause it too. Stomach acid is necessary for iron absorption. So, medicines that block stomach acid production can alter iron absorption. If you have any of these conditions, your doctor may monitor your iron tests regularly.
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How To Read Blood Test Results
While every laboratory or test-providing company may structure their result reports differently, they all must include the same components as mandated by federal legislation.
Some of that may be administrative content, such as the name of the person who did the blood test, the date the test was done, and the name of the doctor who ordered the test.
When it comes to understanding the results, you can look for the following :
- Quantitative test result. Results will be typically written out numerically in cases when the test measured the quantity of something. For example, if the test measured the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
- Abnormal markers. Often, a laboratory report will include some kind of marker to let you know if a result is outside the normal interval, and therefore abnormal. For example, you may see the letter H to indicate high, the letter L to indicate low, or the acronym WNL for within normal limits. You may see an asterisk and some additional comments in text if your results come out as highly abnormal. In this case, youll typically get a call from your doctor.
- Reference range. Every laboratory will have its own reference range for each type of test. Typically, this reference range will be written in your laboratory report next to the numerical value of your result so you are able to see where your result falls in the range.
To a blood test, the nurse or technician:
What Is A Blood Test
By taking and testing a small sample of a persons blood, doctors can check for many kinds of diseases and conditions. Blood tests help doctors check how the bodys organs are working and see if medical treatments are helpful.
To help your child get ready for a blood test, find out if they need to fast or should stop taking medicines before the test. Explain what to expect during the test. If your child is anxious about it, work together on ways to stay calm.
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Too Much Iron In Blood Side Effects
Cirrhosis enduring scarring of the liver is merely one of the health conditions that may happen. Cirrhosis increases the risk of liver cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
Pancreases can easily be affected due to increased iron which further leads to diabetes.
Excess iron can even reach the heart thereby affecting its capability to circulate sufficient blood needed by the body. It may even cause abnormal heart rhythms.
Excessive iron can cause erectile dysfunction , and lack of interest in sex in men, and a lack of the menstrual cycle in women.
Skin Color Changes
Accumulation of iron in skin cells can turn the skin grey or bronze.
What Does A Blood Test Show
Some blood tests can help your doctor determine how different organs in your body are working. Examples of organs whose malfunctions can be visible in a blood test include your thyroid, liver, or kidneys.
Your doctor can also use blood tests to search for markers of diseases and health conditions such as:
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How To Lower Iron Levels In The Blood
Here are the answers to how to lower iron levels quickly
- Lessen the consumption of foods rich in iron such as red meat and so on.
- Regularly donating blood is one of the safest and humanitarian ways of lessening iron levels in the body.
- Taking less vitamin C foods that are high in iron content is another sure shot way.
- It is always better to avoid cooking in iron cookware.
However, when all these dont work doctors may resort to clinical methods such as removing blood from your body and so on. Many times too much iron in the blood can be managed if diagnosed early. If you sense any symptoms of high iron level presence in the body better do not delay and seek medical advice to avoid further complications which may be life-taking.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.
How To Correct Iron Levels
Following serum iron and other iron-related tests, a doctor will suggest ways in which a person can correct their iron levels.
People with low levels of iron may need to make changes to their diet or take iron supplements.
They may need to eat more iron-rich foods, which include:
- whole grains
Conversely, those with an elevated iron level should avoid iron in their diet. They may also need to avoid vitamin C supplements, although this is unnecessary in most cases.
If a person has a high iron level as a result of chronic liver disease, they should avoid anything that could hurt the liver more, such as consuming alcohol.
A person with too much iron may also need to undergo a process called phlebotomy, which removes blood from the body.
A doctor will need to run more tests to determine the cause of the iron overload. This will allow them to treat the underlying condition effectively to reduce iron levels.
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What Does A Serum Iron Test Check For
Serum iron is not a routine test. Its usually ordered as a follow-up when a more common test reveals abnormal results. Such tests include complete blood count or hemoglobin test.
Your doctor may also order a serum iron test if youre showing symptoms of anemia. Abnormal iron tests could be a sign of iron deficiency or iron overload.
Early symptoms of iron deficiency include:
- chronic fatigue
Serum iron is measured in micrograms of iron per deciliter of blood . The following are considered normal ranges for a serum iron test:
- iron: 60 to 170 mcg/dL
- transferrin saturation: 25 percent to 35 percent
- total iron binding capacity : 240 to 450 mcg/dL
Transferrin is a protein in the blood that transports iron throughout your body. Examining how much iron is in the transferrin proteins can tell your doctor if you have too much or too little iron in your blood.
TIBC measures how well the transferrin proteins are transporting iron around your body.
Abnormally high iron serum levels may mean youve consumed too much iron, vitamin B-6, or vitamin B-12. High levels of iron may indicate:
- hemolytic anemia or hemolysis: your body doesnt have enough healthy red blood cells
- liver conditions: such as hepatic necrosis and hepatitis
- iron poisoning: youve taken more than the recommended dose of iron supplements
- iron overload: your body naturally retains too much iron
Low iron levels may also indicate:
Does Donating Blood Affect My Iron Level
Yes. Every time you donate a pint of blood, your body loses some iron. The level of ferritin, which is a reflection of the total amount of storage iron in the body, drops with each donation and then returns to normal over time. Other tests, such as serum iron and TIBC, are not as affected by blood donation.
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My Doctor Instructed Me To Take My Iron Supplement And Then Have An Iron Test Done Why Would That Be
Your doctor may suspect that you are not absorbing the iron you need from your supplements and your diet, so may ask that you have your iron level checked shortly after you take your iron supplement. If you take iron and then have an abnormally low test result, you may have an underlying condition affecting the absorption of iron. You may need to be treated for the condition causing the malabsorption for your iron levels to return to normal.
What Is Ferritin Blood Test
The serum ferritin test measures the stored iron levels in the body. Ferritin is the main iron-storage protein in the body. It releases iron when required. Most of the ferritin occur inside the cells and a fewer amount can be found in the blood. The highest concentration of ferritin can be found in hepatocytes and reticuloendothelial cells. Ferritin binds to transferrin in order to be transported throughout the body.
Figure 2: Ferritin with Iron
The reference ranges of ferritin in the blood are 20-500 ng/mL in men and 20-200 ng/mL in women. High levels of ferritin indicate iron storage disorders such as hemochromatosis. Low levels of ferritin indicate iron deficiency. Generally, ferritin test is performed simultaneously with the serum iron test in order to determine the iron deficiency conditions.
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Testing For Iron Deficiency Through A Blood Sample
People worry about iron deficiency or low iron when theyre feeling tired and fatigued on a daily basis because these are common symptoms of anemia. Iron is an important element in blood and is needed for red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. A doctor can test for iron deficiency by taking a blood sample.
Questions For Diagnosing The Cause Of High Blood Iron
In diagnosing your condition, your health care provider will ask a series of questions related to your high blood iron including:
- When did you first notice your symptoms?
- Where do you feel your symptoms?
- Is there a history of high blood iron or hemochromatosis in your family?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- What, if anything, causes your symptoms to improve?
- Does anything cause your symptoms to worsen?
- Have you noticed any changes in your skin?
- Are you taking any medications?
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Who Needs Iron Supplements
The people who typically need iron supplements are pregnant women and those with documented iron deficiency. People should not take iron supplements before talking to their healthcare practitioner as excess iron can cause chronic iron overload. An overdose of iron pills can be toxic, especially to children.
What Are Normal Levels Of Ferritin
Laboratories may have different reference ranges for normal ferritin levels. When you get your blood test results back, there will be information that indicates what that labs normal ferritin range is.
In general, the normal ferritin level ranges are:
- For people assigned female at birth: 14.7 to 205.1 nanograms per milliliter .
- For people assigned male at birth: 30.3 to 565.7 ng/mL.
If you have any questions about your results, be sure to ask your healthcare provider.
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You Have A Condition That Causes An Increased Need For Iron
Certain conditions increase your bodys need for iron. This happens when children and teens go through growth spurts. It also happens when women become pregnant. In fact, iron tests are a regular part of prenatal screening. But diseases that cause bleeding, such as peptic ulcer disease or some cancers, can also increase iron needs. Even heavy menstrual bleeding can dramatically increase iron needs. Any of these conditions can eventually deplete your iron stores due to the high demand for iron.
What Causes High Blood Iron
Normally, your body absorbs only the amount of iron it requires. With high blood iron, however, the body absorbs an abnormally large amount of iron from your diet, and this can result in serious complications. High blood iron is generally the result of a genetic defect or is acquired as a result of multiple blood transfusions.
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What Do The Results Mean
If one or more iron test results show your iron levels are too low, it may mean you have:
- Iron deficiency anemia, a common type of anemia. Anemia is a disorder in which your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells.
- Another type of anemia
- Thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder that causes the body to make fewer than normal healthy red blood cells
If one or more iron test results show your iron levels are too high, it may mean you have:
- Hemochromatosis, a disorder that causes too much iron to build up in the body
- Liver disease
Most conditions that cause too little or too much iron can be successfully treated with iron supplements, diet, medicines, and/or other therapies.
If your iron test results are not normal, it does not necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Some medicines, including birth control pills and estrogen treatments, can affect iron levels. Iron levels may also be lower for women during their menstrual cycles.
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Looking For Reference Ranges
You may be able to find your test results on your laboratoryâs website or patient portal. However, you are currently at Testing.com. You may have been directed here by your labâs website in order to provide you with background information about the test you had performed. You will need to return to your labâs website or portal, or contact your healthcare practitioner in order to obtain your test results.
Testing.com is an award-winning patient education website offering information on laboratory tests. The content on the site, which has been reviewed by laboratory scientists and other medical professionals, provides general explanations of what results might mean for each test listed on the site, such as what a high or low value might suggest to your healthcare practitioner about your health or medical condition.
The reference ranges for your tests can be found on your laboratory report. They are typically found to the right of your results.
If you do not have your lab report, consult your healthcare provider or the laboratory that performed the test to obtain the reference range.
For more information, please read the article Reference Ranges and What They Mean.
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The Impact Of Medications On Serum Iron Test Results
Many medications can affect the results of a serum iron test by increasing or decreasing your iron levels. For example, birth control pills are commonly used and can affect iron levels. Tell your doctor before the test if youre taking any medications.
Your doctor may instruct you to temporarily stop taking medicines that will affect the test. If you cant stop taking the medication, your doctor will take the medications effects into account when interpreting your results.
Youll probably experience mild pain or a pricking sensation when you have your blood drawn. You might also bleed slightly afterward or develop a small bruise at the puncture site.
In rare cases, you might experience more serious complications, such as: