female scientist holding a blood vial

What Does an Anemia Iron Deficiency Test Include?

blood vials

Iron deficiency anemia affects thousands of people daily. One of the troubling things about anemia is that the symptoms are often attributed to other health issues, so many people do not even realize that they have low blood iron. An anemia blood test can quickly tell someone whether they have anemia. From there, it is possible to treat the condition and get relief from symptoms rather than guessing and hoping for the right cure.

In this post, we will look at how an iron deficiency anemia test works, what it includes, and how to get yourself tested if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to anemia.

Understanding iron deficiency anemia tests

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. This condition occurs when the body does not have enough iron to produce an adequate amount of a protein known as hemoglobin. Hemoglobin allows red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Without enough hemoglobin, tissues and cells cannot get enough oxygen to function normally.

One or more blood tests may be necessary to determine if a person has iron deficiency anemia or another type of anemia.

Tests that a doctor may use to confirm a diagnosis include:

  • A complete blood count
  • Serum iron test
  • Ferritin test
  • Soluble transferrin receptor test

Tests may measure a person’s available iron in the blood, percentage of blood cells in the body, amount of stored iron, hemoglobin levels, and appearance and size of red blood cells.

Some DIY at-home tests can give a general idea of a person’s iron levels. However, it is important to remember that a doctor will still need a blood test for iron deficiency to confirm before making a diagnosis or prescribing a treatment plan.

What causes iron deficiency anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia can impact anyone from children aged 4 to 6 months to senior citizens aged 65+.

The most common cause of iron deficiency is severe or chronic blood loss.

hands with gloves holding blood vial

People who suffer a severe injury, have heavy menstruation, frequently donate blood, or have blood drawn (especially in small children) are at risk of anemia.

People can also develop low iron levels in the blood if they do not get enough iron from the foods they eat. Disorders that prevent the digestive system from properly absorbing iron can also cause a deficiency.

Persons assigned female at birth are also at a higher risk for iron deficiency anemia due to menstruation and childbirth.

There are other types of anemia, such as pernicious and sickle cell anemia. If the cause of anemia is not readily apparent, your doctor may order a reticulocyte count test. A low reticulocyte count can signify certain types of anemia, such as those caused by nutritional deficiencies anemia or chronic disease.

What treatments are available for anemia iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency anemia can have significant health consequences if left untreated, including heart problems, worsening chronic conditions, pregnancy complications, and more.

For most people, supplements and diet changes can correct low blood iron.

hand holding a syringe and a vial with blue liquid

People with chronic conditions that cause low iron may require ongoing treatment such as medication or supplementation.

The most common way that doctors treat iron deficiency anemia is by first treating the underlying cause, such as bleeding or an absorption issue. Once that is taken care of, a doctor may suggest treatments such as iron supplements, IV therapy that includes iron, and dietary changes to include more iron-rich foods daily.

Final thoughts

We hope this post has given you a better understanding of iron deficiency anemia, how it can affect a person’s health, the overall causes, and why getting tested for low iron is important. If you experience any symptoms related to anemia or feel you have low iron, consult with your doctor today about getting tested and your treatment options.

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