An iron studies test is a blood test that is used to determine the amount of iron in your body. This test can help to determine if your iron is too low or too high. An iron test is not performed routinely but is often recommended if other blood tests, such as a complete blood count, a hemoglobin, or a hematocrit test, indicate a potential problem.
Why the Test Is Ordered
In addition to indications observed in the results of other tests, your health care provider may request iron studies if you exhibit symptoms associated with low or high iron. This helps your physician to make a proper diagnosis so that effective treatment options can be provided. Too little or too much iron in the body can lead to additional health problems.
How to Prepare for the Test
This simple blood test can be performed in the office or at a lab. In most cases, your physician will recommend that you fast for at least 12 hours before having the test. In this case, only water is allowed. Because iron levels are generally higher in the morning, your health care provider may request that you make an early appointment to get the appropriate results.
What Do the Results Mean?
Serum iron ranges vary between men and women. For men, the average range is approximately 65 to 176 µg/dL. For women, the range averages from 50 to 170 µg/dL. While certain individuals may consistently have readings slightly outside of these ranges with no problems, any changes in the patient’s normal results can indicate a potential problem.
Low iron. Results below 65 µg/dL for men and 50 µg/dL for women may indicate the presence of anemia. Symptoms of low iron may include:
- Pale skin
High iron. Results that lie above 176 µg/dL for men and 170 µg/dL for women may indicate the presence of iron overload, or hemochromatosis. Symptoms of high iron include:
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of energy
If your iron studies come back too low or too high, your health care provider may recommend additional testing to specifically determine the source of the problem. This will help in making the appropriate treatment recommendations.
- Trasferrin saturation
- TIBC – total iron-binding capacity
- UIBC – unsaturated iron-binding capacity
- Serum ferritin