Order this Iron and TIBC Blood Test to assess the body’s ability to bind and transport iron in the blood, which can help identify an iron deficiency, anemia, or overload. Iron is an essential nutrient that is crucial for producing healthy red blood cells (RBCs), as well as other processes. It is a critical component of hemoglobin, a protein in RBCs that binds oxygen in the lungs and then releases it as blood circulates to other body parts. Unfortunately, the body cannot produce iron and must absorb it from food or supplements.
Typically, iron is transported throughout the body by transferrin, produced by the liver. If an individual is healthy, most iron is incorporated into the hemoglobin in developing RBCs in the bone marrow. The rest is stored in the tissues as ferritin, with other small amounts used for different purposes (producing other iron-containing proteins such as myoglobin and some enzymes).
Standard iron blood tests measure the total amount of iron in the blood to determine if iron levels or too low or too high. However, with the addition of a total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) test, individuals can also measure how much iron can attach to transferrin and other proteins in the blood, which can help determine if the abnormal levels indicate a severe health condition such as liver disease or malnutrition.
The Ferritin Blood Test to measure ferritin levels in the blood to help screen for an iron deficiency or overload that may cause severe health conditions. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron inside the cells. The body needs iron to produce healthy red blood cells, responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is also essential for maintaining the overall health of muscles, bone marrow, and organs, including neurological development in children. Since the body releases small trace amounts of ferritin into the blood after it converts iron, this Ferritin Blood Test may be used to show the total amount of iron stored in the body.
Additionally, individuals may order this test to:
- Assist in diagnosing or screening for conditions related to iron levels, such as:
- Hemochromatosis, or iron overload, is characterized by having too much iron in your body.
- Iron deficiency anemia is when the body produces inadequate red blood cells because of a lack of iron.
- Liver diseases (in these conditions, much of the ferritin is stored in the liver.)
- Restless legs syndrome is a tingling or burning feeling in the legs because of a lack of iron.
- Adult Still disease (also called adult-onset Still disease or AOSD) is a rare disease that causes joint pain, fever, and rash, accompanied by high ferritin levels.
- Monitor chronic or recurring conditions that affect iron levels, such as cancer, kidney disease, and autoimmune disorders.
What do abnormal Iron and TIBC levels indicate?
When iron levels are too low, this may occur because of the following:
- Iron deficiency anemia, is a common form of anemia. Anemia is a disorder in which the body doesn’t make enough red blood cells.
- Another type of anemia
- Thalassemia, is a genetic blood disorder that causes the body to produce fewer than normal healthy red blood cells.
However, if the iron levels are too high, it may indicate:
- Hemochromatosis, is a disorder that causes too much iron to build up in the body
- Lead poisoning
- Liver disease
Individuals may order this test if they have experienced symptoms associated with iron deficiency or iron overload. Common signs or symptoms of an iron deficiency may include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Restless leg syndrome
- Increased or irregular heart rate
- Unusual cravings for non-food items like ice, clay, soil, or paper
In addition, signs or symptoms of an iron overload may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Joint pain, mainly in the knees or hands
- Low sex drive
- Abdominal pain
- Pale skin