General Practice 2022

What é ferritin (and why is itá high or low)

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What é ferritin (and why is itá high or low)
What é ferritin (and why is itá high or low)

Ferritin is a protein produced by the liver responsible for storing iron in the body, which is essential for the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells.

Thus, the ferritin test is useful to assess the lack or excess of iron in the body, being usually performed together with the serum iron dosage and the blood count, in addition to being useful in the diagnosis of the acute inflammation and infection.

Normally, in he althy people, the reference value for serum ferritin is 23 to 336 ng/mL in men and from 11 to 306 ng/mL in women, which may vary according to the laboratory. However, in women it is normal to have low ferritin in pregnancy due to the increase in the amount of blood and the passage of iron through the placenta to the baby.

When ferritin testing is indicated

The ferritin test is mainly indicated by the doctor to evaluate the levels of iron in the body and, therefore, its dosage is usually indicated together with the dosage of serum iron, transferrin, in some cases, and with the performing the hemogram. In addition, as it is a protein produced by the liver, the doctor can also indicate the dosage of TGO/AST and TGP/ALT, which are enzymes that allow evaluating liver he alth.

In addition to being responsible for iron storage, ferritin is also considered a marker of inflammation and, therefore, the ferritin test may also be indicated by the doctor in the suspicion of infection or inflammation and/or with the objective of to follow the evolution of the disease and the effectiveness of the treatment, if it is being performed.

High ferritin

High ferritin symptoms can indicate excessive iron accumulation, however, in some cases, it can also be a symptom of inflammation or infections, since it is an acute phase protein, which can be increased in the following situations:

  • COVID-19;
  • Hemolytic anemia;
  • Megaloblastic anemia;
  • Alcoholic liver disease;
  • Hodgkin's Lymphoma;
  • Myocardial infarction in men;
  • Leukemia;
  • Hemochromatosis;

Symptoms of high ferritin: Symptoms of excess ferritin are usually joint pain, tiredness, shortness of breath, or abdominal pain, and treatment for high ferritin depends on the cause, but it is usually also complemented with the withdrawal of blood to balance iron levels and the adoption of diets with few foods rich in iron or vitamin C.

Learn the symptoms of excess iron in the blood and how to treat it.

Low ferritin

Low ferritin usually indicates that iron levels are low and therefore the liver does not produce ferritin as there is no iron available for storage. The main causes of low ferritin are:

  • Iron deficiency anemia;
  • Hypothyroidism;
  • Gastrointestinal Bleeding;
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding;
  • Diet low in iron and vitamin C;

Symptoms of low ferritin: Symptoms of low ferritin usually include tiredness, weakness, paleness, lack of appetite, hair loss, headaches and dizziness. Its treatment can be done with the daily intake of iron or with diets rich in foods with vitamin C and iron, such as meat, beans or oranges. Discover other foods rich in iron.

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