Iron test

Other names: Serum Iron; Fe

Iron is essential for effective body functioning; it plays an important role in the body and is used to generate red blood cells (which carry oxygen around the body) and certain types of enzyme, which have numerous roles in the body. An iron deficiency may contribute to anaemia; no single test is accepted to diagnose iron deficiency anaemia so the iron test is usually carried out alongside other tests.

Why is the test used?

The test is used primarily to test for anaemia (along with other tests); however, the test can also be used if the doctor suspects that a patient has too much iron in their blood.

The test is usually ordered when a doctor suspects that a patient has anaemia, which is caused by a deficiency of iron; symptoms include lethargy, tiredness, weakness and pale skin.

The test may also be ordered if the doctor suspects that the patient has too much iron in their blood.

How is the test done?

The test is done by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the arm; a needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected in a syringe. Once the doctor has a sufficient sample, the blood will be placed in a bottle, labelled with the patient’s name and sent away to the laboratory for analysis.

The iron test should be carried out in the morning before the patient has had anything to eat; if the patient is taking iron tablets, they should not take a tablet within 24 hours of the test, as this will affect the results.

What do the test results mean?

If iron levels are lower than normal, this usually indicates an iron deficiency; this is almost always the case if transferrin or TIBC are also high. Low levels of transferrin or TIBC and iron may indicate that the patient has a chronic condition.

High levels of serum iron are usually caused by haemochromatosis (this occurs when too much iron is present in the blood; it can be caused by many different health conditions).

Specific Blood Tests

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