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Ferritin: What is it, symptoms and treatment of high and low levels

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Ferritin: What is it, symptoms and treatment of high and low levels

Ferritin is a protein complex that controls the storage and release of iron mineral, which has important functions in the body. Since iron can be stored, its deficiency or excess indicates the amount of iron in the body. It is one of the first values ​​checked in addition to the blood test, also known as complete blood count. Because the amount of iron in the blood has an important role in carrying oxygen to the cells and carrying waste carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs. Iron mineral is needed for cells to maintain their vitality and perform their cellular functions. Ferritin deficiency can cause serious health problems, ranging from fatigue to anemia.

What is Ferritin?

Erythrocytes, called red blood cells, must be bound to iron minerals in order to carry oxygen to the cells. This protein, to which iron is bound and which transports oxygen and carbon dioxide, is called hemoglobin. It is the ferritin protein that ensures the binding of sufficient amounts of iron. Ferritin protein is produced by reticuloendothelial cells of the immune system and hepatocyte cells of the liver. Ferritin enables the iron in foods to be dissolved, stored and released into the body in the required amount. Ferritin combines with the protein called transferrin and delivers the needed iron to the relevant places in the body. For this reason, ferritin value is checked to determine the amount of iron in the body. Low ferritin means that the iron required for the body cannot be provided. When the iron needed by the body is not met, the cells begin to lose their functions by being deprived of oxygen. This situation causes significant symptoms in the body. Significant symptoms occur in the body when the ferritin value is low or high. For this reason, the deficiency in the body can be detected by having blood tests done at regular intervals and the deficiency can be corrected with appropriate treatment.

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What is Low Ferritin?

The low amount of ferritin, one of the important values ​​frequently checked, indicates the deficiency of iron mineral. Since the oxygen needed by the cells cannot be met in iron deficiency, the cells cannot fully function. Low ferritin will cause cell dysfunction and cell death, causing damage to the skin, hair and nails. It is considered normal for the ferritin value to be slightly lower in women than in men. While the required ferritin value for men is between 20 and 500 nanograms per milliliter, for women it is sufficient to be between 20 and 200 nanograms per milliliter.

What are the symptoms of low ferritin?

Low ferritin, and therefore iron deficiency, can cause disorders that affect the whole body, especially fatigue. Ferritin deficiency causes negative effects on many tissues in the body, especially the skin, hair and nails. The most common symptoms of low ferritin can be listed as follows:

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • dizziness

  • Anorexia

  • Shortness of breath

  • pale skin color

  • Hair wear and loss

  • Weakness and wear on nails

  • Numbness and coldness in hands and feet

  • Forgetfulness

  • focusing problem

  • Don’t be angry

  • Headache

  • tinnitus

What are the causes of low ferritin?

Low ferritin, which is important for the body, depends on different factors, including genetic, personal and environmental. Some of the genetic factors that cause low ferritin are; Celiac disease, gastrointestinal diseases that affect iron absorption, and some chronic diseases of genetic origin. A person’s lifestyle and eating habits also play an important role in low ferritin. Irregular and unhealthy diet, consuming too much coffee and tea, consuming processed foods and frequent pregnancy are personal factors that cause low ferritin. In addition, a long menstrual period and bleeding resulting from accidents and injuries also reduce the ferritin value. The causes of low ferritin can be classified as follows:

  • Nutrition habits

  • Life style

  • Conditions that cause bleeding

  • genetic diseases

  • absorption disorders

  • Pregnancy

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How to Treat Low Ferritin?

When symptoms of low ferritin appear, a blood test is requested by the doctor. When a blood test shows low ferritin, the first thing that comes to mind is whether you have had a bleeding problem recently. Ferritin value may decrease as a result of an accident, an injury, or after a difficult menstrual period. If there is no bleeding that would decrease the ferritin value, other reasons that may cause the decrease are investigated. Once the cause is identified, the value is increased by applying treatment aimed at the cause. When ferritin is low, it is necessary to use iron supplements, increase the consumption of iron-containing foods such as red meat, and avoid habits such as excessive consumption of tea, coffee and cigarettes that weaken iron absorption. In case of low ferritin, milk and dairy products should not be consumed for a few hours while using iron medications prescribed by doctors. Because minerals such as calcium and magnesium reduce iron absorption.

What is Ferritin High?

When the ferritin value, which indicates the amount of iron stored in the body, exceeds 500 nanograms per milliliter, it means that it has increased (3). High ferritin levels often indicate an infection, inflammation, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome or malignant diseases. When the ferritin value increases, the iron store is usually more full than it should be and can cause serious discomfort such as chest tightness and heart palpitations. If high ferritin is caused by an increase in iron stores, it is necessary to avoid iron intake and take measures to reduce iron absorption. Some types of cancer, diseases that increase iron absorption such as hemochromatosis, and diseases that reduce the use of iron such as porphyria disorders cause the ferritin value to increase.

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What are the symptoms of high ferritin?

While many health problems occur when the ferritin value, which indicates the amount of iron stored in the body, is low, vital symptoms may occur when it is high. When it is low, wear and tear occurs in many tissues due to cell death, while when it is high, problems may occur due to excess oxygen. The main symptoms of high ferritin, which may develop due to excess iron storage in the body, can be listed as follows:

  • Pain in the chest area

  • Palpitation

  • joint pains

  • weight loss

  • Stomach ache

  • A vibrant skin color

  • Loss of sexual desire

What Causes High Ferritin?

Since the liver is one of the places where iron is mostly stored, many liver diseases and alcoholism are among the main causes of high ferritin. In addition, diseases that increase iron absorption, genetic disorders that disrupt iron metabolism, and diseases that prevent the proper use of iron also cause high ferritin. Conditions that cause high ferritin levels can be listed as follows:

  • hemochromatosis

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • Chronic inflammatory disorders A

  • liver disease

  • hyperthyroidism

  • Type 2 Diabetes Disease

  • porphyria disorders

  • Leukemia

  • Hepatitis C

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Multiple blood transfusions

  • Using excessive amounts of iron supplements

How to Treat High Ferritin?

In order to treat elevated ferritin, the condition causing the elevation must first be correctly identified. If there is a disease that causes high ferritin, this disease is treated first and then the ferritin value will return to normal. If the cause of elevation is a condition other than disease, measures can be taken to reduce iron absorption. Increasing the intake of calcium, magnesium and zinc minerals, performing long-term physical exercises and increasing coffee and tea consumption reduce iron absorption. When there is a problem of high ferritin, iron supplements, if used, can be stopped for a while and blood donation can be made. If all these measures are not sufficient to reduce the ferritin level, ferritin-lowering drug treatment is applied by the doctor. As a result of regular monitoring, the medications are stopped when the ferritin values ​​reach the required range.

If you have symptoms of low or high ferritin levels, you should go to a healthcare institution and have a blood test as soon as possible. Thus, you can find out your ferritin value and start appropriate treatment under the supervision of a doctor.

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