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IRON Total

Also known as

Serum Iron, Iron Total 

This test is ordered alongside other blood tests in order to determine the level of iron in the blood, along with other tests. The test is also helpful in diagnosing iron-deficiency anemia or iron overload.
The test is ordered when the patient may have iron deficiency or iron overload. In addition, it may also be ordered when the patient has low hemoglobin and hematocrit on a complete blood count.
This is a blood test. The technician draws blood using a syringe from a vein in the arm.
Labs often have specific instructions for the test. Oftentimes, the blood is drawn in the morning, with the patient being instructed to fast for at least 12 hours before the blood draw. In fasting, only drinking water is allowed. It is important to follow all the instructions set by the lab before the test is performed.
This test measures the amount of iron found in the liquid portion of the blood. Iron is an essential nutrient that is required for the production of healthy red blood cells. It is a key part of hemoglobin which is a protein in the red blood cells that binds oxygen to the lungs and releases it when the blood circulates to other parts of the body. It also performs other functions like helping convert blood sugar into energy, boosting the immune system, aiding cognitive function, and supporting healthy hair, skin, and nails. An iron blood test is measured in conjunction with other tests like serum ferritin, transferrin, and total iron-binding capacity. The tests are ordered at the same time, and the results are interpreted in light of one another. The body can not make iron which is why it absorbs it from food and supplements. Once it is absorbed, it is transported throughout the body by binding it to transferrin. In people who are healthy, iron absorbed is incorporated in the hemoglobin found in red blood cells. The rest is stored in tissues such as ferritin or hemosiderin. When the levels of iron are inadequate and can’t meet the body’s needs, the levels of iron drop, and iron stores are depleted. This may be because there is an increased need for iron, as happens in pregnancy, low consumption of iron, or the body can not absorb enough iron. Insufficient iron leads to iron deficiency anemia.
The basic metabolic panel (BMP blood test) is used by the doctor to check your overall health, your kidney function, the status of your electrolyte and acid/base balance, as well as your blood glucose level. This test measures how much iron is in transit in the body – this is the iron that is bound to transferrin in the blood. In addition to other tests, iron is used to help diagnose and detect low levels of iron or excess iron. In addition, testing aids in distinguishing between various causes of anemia. The amount of iron present in the blood varies on a daily basis, which is why serum iron is conducted alongside a series of other tests.
The test may be ordered as a follow-up test for CBC, which has abnormal results such as hemoglobin or hematocrit being low or red blood cells having abnormal appearances, which suggest iron deficiency despite the absence of other symptoms. In general, symptoms of anemia are
 
  • Chronic fatigue/tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Pallor
The worsened condition leads to signs like
 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Grumpiness
  • Tongue and mouth sores
  • Pica (the compulsion to eat non-food items, such as paper or ice chips)
  • Misshapen nails
Tests are also ordered when an overload is suspected. Signs and symptoms are different for individuals and tend to progress over time. These signs are linked to iron accumulation in the blood and tissues. The signs and symptoms include
 
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Lack of energy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Organ damage, such as in the heart and liver
A higher-than-normal iron level may be a sign of:
 
  • Too much iron in the body (hemochromatosis)
  • Anemia due to red blood cells being destroyed too quickly (hemolytic anemia)
  • Liver tissue death
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
  • Iron poisoning
  • Frequent blood transfusions
A lower-than-normal level may be a sign of:
 
  • Long-term digestive tract bleeding
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Intestinal conditions that cause poor absorption of iron
  • Not enough iron in the diet
  • Pregnancy
Related Tests: Ferritin, Transferrin and Iron-binding Capacity (TIBC, UIBC), Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, Complete Blood Count (CBC blood test), Reticulocytes, Zinc Protoporphyrin, Iron Tests, Soluble Transferrin Receptor
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