Ferritin Fun

My regular blood tests have been showing declining Ferritin; an intercellular protein that binds, stores and releases iron to wherever it is needed in the body. Low Ferritin can lead to anemia. It is common in Vegetarians and can indicate underlying conditions such as hypothyroidism and Coeliac Disease. I am not a vegetarian but my diet does consist mostly of vegetables. I also avoid gluten (as it gives me bloat, acne, weight gain, fatigue and low moods) but have not yet been tested for Coeliac Disease. I eat plenty of iron rich foods, such as leafy greens, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and raw dark chocolate. I also ensure I get sufficient Vitamin C and Calcium to assist with iron absorption.

My G.P referred me to an Immunologist in light of my test results also showing declining liver function. The Immunologist sent me to a hospital for an iron infusion as he said it would take months or maybe even years of trying to eat more iron and/or taking oral supplements to get my Ferritin level back to even the minimum of where it should be.

During this process I’ve discovered some very interesting things from my own body:

Low Ferritin gives me…

– Muscular aches and fatigue beyond that which is to be expected from my triathlon training

– Voracious hunger and meat cravings

– Dizziness/Faint feelings upon standing/squatting

 

Post-Infusion High Ferritin gives me…

– Reduced hunger and appetite

– Lack of desire to eat meat

– Short term fatigue and a general feeling of malaise

 

And from the general experience I discovered:

– That the tea they serve at the hospital is the same colour as the iron IV fluid

– That I had forgotten that the sticky tape & band aid stuff hurts just as much, when it waxes your hairs/skin off, as the needle insertion

– That the transfusion chairs are quite comfy

– That the really nice old yellow shirted volunteer ladies will go fetch you all the icecream, or cheese & bikkies, you like but look absolutely aghast/gutted when you tell them you’re lactose & GF

Now that I’ve had the infusion we’ll re-test my bloods regularly to see what happens to this Ferritin, but given that everything points to my having an absorption problem, I have also been referred to a Gastroenterologist. The Immunologist is sending me to the Gastroenterologist to have an Endoscopy and Colonoscopy  (that sounds like fun) with the intention of looking for signs of conditions such as Coeliac Disease and any internal bleeding that could be leaching my Ferritin. Hopefully we’ll also discover why I suffer from FODMAP’s sensitivity/IBS! It would be nice to have some answers!

POSTSCRIPT: My results came back showing no signs of Coeliac but I do have Gastritis. This doesn’t explain the low Ferritin or IBS though. I have since gone consistently vegetarian (plus occasional fish and eggs but no diary). Three months since the infusion, and change to my diet, my Ferritin has normalised and so has my liver function. My urea has dropped and all other results are excellent.

 

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