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Iron Test: What It Is, Purpose, Procedure & Results Your Guide to Iron Tests

14 Apr 2023 by Admin
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Iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in our body's functioning. It is responsible for the production of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to different parts of the body. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition that can cause fatigue, weakness, and other health problems. To detect iron deficiency or excess, doctors often recommend iron tests. In this blog, we will discuss what iron tests are, their purpose, procedure, and results.

What is an Iron Test?

Iron tests are a set of blood tests that measure the levels of iron, ferritin, transferrin, and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) in the blood. These tests help doctors diagnose and monitor conditions related to iron metabolism in the body.

Purpose of Iron Tests

Iron tests are used to diagnose and monitor various conditions related to iron metabolism, including:

  1. Iron-deficiency anemia: Iron tests can help diagnose iron-deficiency anemia, which occurs when the body does not have enough iron to produce hemoglobin.

  2. Hemochromatosis: Iron tests can help diagnose hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body absorbs too much iron from the diet, leading to iron overload in the body.

  3. Thalassemia: Iron tests can help diagnose thalassemia, a genetic disorder that affects the production of hemoglobin in the body.

  4. Chronic liver disease: Iron tests can help monitor iron levels in patients with chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis C, alcoholic liver disease, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

  5. Other conditions: Iron tests can also be used to monitor iron levels in patients with kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or cancer.

Procedure of Iron Tests

Iron tests require a blood sample, which is typically drawn from a vein in the arm. The procedure for iron tests is as follows:

  1. Fasting: Before the test, patients are typically asked to fast for 8-12 hours.

  2. Blood draw: A healthcare professional will draw a blood sample from a vein in the arm using a needle and a syringe or a vacuum tube. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

  3. Results: The results of the iron tests are usually available within a few days.

Results of Iron Tests

Iron tests measure the levels of iron, ferritin, transferrin, and TIBC in the blood. The results of these tests can provide valuable information about the body's iron metabolism.

  1. Serum iron: Serum iron measures the amount of iron in the blood. Normal serum iron levels range from 65-175 μg/dL in men and 50-170 μg/dL in women.

  2. Ferritin: Ferritin is a protein that stores iron in the body. Ferritin levels are a good indicator of the body's iron stores. Normal ferritin levels range from 30-400 ng/mL in men and 15-150 ng/mL in women.

  3. Transferrin: Transferrin is a protein that transports iron in the blood. Transferrin levels can help diagnose iron-deficiency anemia. Low transferrin levels indicate iron deficiency, while high transferrin levels indicate iron overload. Normal transferrin levels range from 170-370 mg/dL in men and 150-250 mg/dL in women.

  4. Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC): TIBC measures the total amount of iron that transferrin can bind. TIBC levels can help diagnose iron-deficiency anemia. Low TIBC levels indicate iron overload, while high TIBC levels indicate iron deficiency. Normal TIBC levels range from 250-460 μg/dL in men and 250-450 μg/dL in women