How to Check Iron Levels

How to Check Iron Levels

November 9, 2019 0 By Bertrand Dibbert


How to Check Iron Levels
If you suspect your iron levels aren’t what they should be, your best course of action
is to head to the doctor, where they can test your iron levels. If you can’t afford that option, try giving
blood. While the technicians won’t give you an exact
iron level, they do test your hemoglobin levels with a fingerstick. They perform this test to weed out donors
whose iron levels are too low or too high. Also, watch for the symptoms of low and high
iron to know when to visit your Method 1 Going to the Doctor
1 See your doctor if you suspect your iron levels
are low. Your doctor is the best way to get your iron
levels checked. Make an appointment to see your doctor within
1-2 weeks if you’re showing basic signs of anemia like fatigue. The first step the doctor will take is to
ask you about any history you’ve had with low iron in the past. Then, the doctor will ask you questions about
your recent symptoms and health. If you are having heart palpitations or shortness
of breath, go immediately to urgent care or the emergency room. If you’re having chest pains and breathing
problems together, go straight to the emergency room. Your doctor may ask you about your diet. For women, they may also ask if you’ve had
a heavy period recently. It can help to write down any symptoms you’ve
been experiencing before you head to the doctor. That way, you won’t forget when you get to
the exam room. 2
Expect a physical exam. The doctor will do things like look at your
mouth, skin, and nail beds, listen to your heart and lungs, and feel your abdominal area. They will be checking for signs of low or
high iron. Some signs of low iron may include fatigue,
shortness of breath, dizziness, coldness in your extremities, pale skin, slowed appetite,
and cravings for non-food items (known as pica). Let your doctor know if you have experienced
any of these. Other physical signs your doctor may look
for include brittle nails, a swollen tongue, cracks in the sides of the mouth, and frequent
infections. 3
Be ready for a blood test. The doctor will order blood tests if they
suspect your iron levels aren’t right. The doctor may use more than one type of blood
test to check to see whether your iron levels are high or low. Usually, you’ll get results between 1-3 days
after you had the blood test. These tests will give your doctor an idea
of your hemoglobin levels. These levels measure how much oxygen is binding
with your red blood cells. Method 2 Checking Your Iron Levels while Giving
Blood 1
Find a place where you can donate blood. Check the websites of blood donation organizations
to find out where you can donate. For instance, you can use the American Red
Cross website to look for blood donation centers in your area. Alternatively, watch for blood drives where
you can give blood. The American Red Cross states that it administers
the hemoglobin test on its website. Check to make sure the organization you’re
donating with also provides this test. Most organizations screen for low or high
iron levels. 2
Go in to donate blood. This method requires that you be willing to
donate blood, as the test is part of the donation process. Usually, you can just show up to donate–you
don’t need to make an appointment. However, you do need to be healthy. You also need to be at least 17-years-old
and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. For donating blood, “healthy” means you are
able to perform your usual routine, and you have any chronic disease, such as diabetes,
under control. It also means that you don’t have an infection
like a cold or the flu, or certain illnesses including malaria, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. 3
Expect a finger prick. Before you give blood, the technician will
stick your finger using a fingerstick, which just means they poke your finger with a small,
spring-loaded needle. That will produce a drop of blood the technician
can use to check your hemoglobin levels. 4
Ask about your hemoglobin level. The technician likely won’t give you an exact
figure. However, this test is used to screen you for
high or low hemoglobin, which can indicate high and low iron. Therefore, if you’re disqualified from giving
blood, you can ask if it was your hemoglobin level and whether the level was in the high
or low range. The technician is looking for certain levels
of hemoglobin in your blood, but they will likely just have a general range to see if
you fall above or below certain levels. They’ll disqualify you if you fall in these
ranges. For instance, if your hemoglobin levels fall
below 12.5 g/dL for a woman or 13 g/dL for a man, you can’t give blood because your iron
levels are likely too low. If your levels are above 20 g/dL for a man
or woman, you can’t give blood because your iron levels are likely too high. This is a rare occurrence. Method 3 Looking for Signs of Low or High
Iron 1
Notice fatigue or weakness if you suspect low iron levels. Fatigue is one of the primary signs of low
iron levels. Iron is essential to your red blood cells,
and your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. When your red blood cells are low, your body
isn’t getting as much oxygen as it’s accustomed to, which can make you feel very tired and
weak. Generally, this symptom is more than feeling
a little tired for a day or two. It’s a deeper tiredness that lasts over time. 2
Pay attention to shortness of breath or dizziness for low iron. Because your body isn’t getting enough oxygen,
you may feel dizzy or lightheaded due to lack of oxygen. This can, in extreme circumstances, lead to
issues with breathing, such as feeling like you can’t take a deep breath. Such symptoms are rare, and typically associated
with situations where someone is actively losing blood. You may also notice headaches, which are a
related symptom. 3
Check for coldness in your extremities for low iron. With low iron levels, your heart is having
to work harder to pump blood to your body because it doesn’t have as many cells to carry
oxygen. Therefore, your fingers and toes may feel
colder than normal. 4
Look in the mirror for pale skin, a symptom of low iron. With your heart not pumping as efficiently,
you may end up with pale skin. You may also notice this symptom in your nail
beds and your gums. 5
Be vigilant about heart problems with low iron. Because your heart is working harder to move
blood through your body, you can end up with heart problems. For instance, you may have a heart arrhythmia
or murmur, which can feel like your heart is skipping a beat. 6
Notice if you get odd cravings for non-food items for low iron. Your body knows it’s deficient in a needed
nutrient, iron, and it may come up with odd cravings for things that aren’t food. For instance, you may crave dirt, ice, or
starch. 7
Watch for stomach issues, as they could indicate high iron levels. The main symptoms of high iron have to do
with your stomach. You may experience constipation, vomiting,
nausea, or stomach pain, all of which could indicate high iron levels. Stomach issues can be a sign of many diseases,
so don’t automatically assume these issues are from high iron.