July 18, 2022
What do humans, plants, animals, appliances, cars, and the Titanic all have in common? They all need iron. For humans, iron is an important mineral needed for growth and development. However, your body cannot make iron, which means you need to get it from food sources in a balanced diet.
Insufficient iron in your diet can lead to a condition known as iron-deficiency anemia. Iron has a number of specific roles in your body, including:
In this article, we will review the ferritin blood test and explain why you might need one. We will also outline the procedure and explain how to understand your test results.
Ferritin is an iron-rich blood protein. A ferritin blood test measures the amount of total iron in your blood. This enables your doctor to assess the level of ferritin your body is storing.
A ferritin test can reveal if your iron level is normal, too high, or too low, so that your doctor can, if necessary, diagnose and treat the underlying cause. Sometimes your doctor may also recommend a total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) test to measure iron levels in your blood.
Your healthcare provider may recommend a ferritin blood test if they suspect that your iron levels are too high or too low. The test will measure the amount of ferritin in your blood. If you are having certain symptoms, the test may diagnose one of the following medical conditions:
A ferritin blood test can be taken at a clinic, your doctor’s office, or a hospital. Typically, it is performed by a nurse, phlebotomist, or other specialist. If you prefer, you could have your ferritin sample taken at home.
Mobile labs, like Getlabs, are a popular home-test option due in large part to their convenience. Mobile blood sampling is also an excellent alternative to visiting a doctor’s office if you are home-bound, have difficulty leaving the house, or if you are afraid of needles. If you choose an at-home ferritin test service, a specialist will come to your home, collect a blood sample, and take it to a local lab for testing.
Your doctor may ask you to fast for 12 hours before your blood test. This means that you should not eat anything and not drink any liquids other than water.
The test is usually done early in the morning, so you will be fasting overnight, which shouldn’t be too difficult. If you do not fast before your blood test, this may affect the accuracy of the results. If you have questions about fasting before a blood test, we covered the topic more in-depth here.
When your Getlabs specialist arrives at your house, they will show you their professional identification and ask you a few questions about your medical history and your general health. They will also ask you if you prepared for your blood test by fasting.
Before taking your blood sample, they will make sure that you are sitting or lying comfortably for the procedure. Your specialist will examine your arms and select the most appropriate vein in your preferred arm. They will then clean your inner arm with an antibacterial wipe at the site where blood will be drawn.
Your specialist will tie a tourniquet around your upper arm to make it easier to find the veins in your arm. They will insert a needle into your vein and attach a test tube to collect the blood sample. Once the sample has been collected, your specialist will remove the needle and apply pressure to the puncture site before applying a bandage. The test will be completed in under five minutes.
Once the lab has received your blood sample, the lab test will usually be complete within 24-48 hours. Typically, the report containing your results will be sent in the mail or via your laboratory's patient portal.
The results are shown as a number indicating the number of nanograms of ferritin per milliliter of blood or ng/mL. The reported range will allow your doctor to assess whether your ferritin level is normal, low, or high for someone of your age, sex, and general health.
The normal range for serum ferritin levels is:
Ferritin levels higher than those noted above can, if left untreated, cause serious illness including damage to your heart, liver, pancreas, and joints. Iron overload can also cause damage to bone marrow.
Low ferritin levels cause iron-deficiency anemia. If you do not have enough iron, this means you have too few red blood cells circulating in your body. This could be due to poor iron absorption from food, an inadequate diet, or menstrual blood loss.
Iron-deficiency anemia may also be caused by hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or certain types of cancer. Your healthcare provider may prescribe iron supplements to help increase your ferritin level.
If you decide to get your ferritin blood test done at home, one of our Getlabs specialists can help you give a blood sample, comfortably, safely, and with total confidentiality. It will save you time and you can enjoy our personalized care with three simple steps.
If you want to learn more about Getlabs, visit www.getlabs.com/faq to learn more.
Getlabs delivers healthcare to you. Our specialists come to you to collect your labs and deliver them to Labcorp and Quest for testing. We’re available same-day, nationwide.