The Iron Deficiency Symptom Checker is designed to help you find out if you are iron deficient or not.

Diagnosing Iron Deficiency

The results from the Iron Deficiency Symptom Checker may provide you with possible questions or concern areas which can be discussed when you consult with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

What are my diagnosis options?

To find out if you are iron deficient is not difficult. It usually involves:

Physical examination

Medical history

Blood tests

What happens during a physical examination?1

1
You doctor will ask you about the signs and symptoms you have been experiencing, while asking questions about your medical history.
2
He or she may check the colour of your skin, gums and nail beds. Your heart rate may be checked for a rapid or irregular heartbeat, and your lungs for rapid or uneven breathing.
3
Other possible checks may include feeling your abdomen for an enlarged liver or spleen, checking for bone pain, or a pelvic examination to determine if there is any internal bleeding.

Some of the questions your doctor may ask you are:

1
When did the symptoms appear?
2
For how long have you felt tired / fatigued?
3
Do you wake up feeling tired?
4
How does being tired affect your daily life?
5
Do you smoke, and how much alcohol do you drink?
6
Are you on any medication or supplements?

What type of tests will your doctor prescribe?2

Iron is stored in the body as ferritin and is delivered throughout the body by transferrin (a protein in blood that binds to iron). A doctor may check blood levels of these two components if anaemia is suspected.

The usual tests needed are:1

1
Full blood count or complete blood count
2
Serum Ferritin (the amount of ferritin concentration is a good indication of the iron stores in your body and is widely used to diagnose iron deficiency)
3
Total iron-binding capacity
4
Transferrin saturation

Typical iron levels in an adult3-4

Test Normal value
Hemoglobin, g/dL >13 (men),> 12(women)
Mean corpuscular volume (MVC), fL 80-95
Serum iron, nmol/L 10-30
Serum ferreting, μg/L 15-200 (premenopausal woman), 20-300 (men and postmenopausal women)
Totall iron-binding capacity (TIBC), μmol/L 45-81
Transferring, g/L 2.0-3.5
  1. National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Anaemia. 2011. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/blood/anemia-yg.pdf. Accessed: April 2020.
  2. Healthline. What is a ferritin test? Rachel Nall. September 2018. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/ferritin. Accessed: April 2020.
  3. National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute. Iron deficiency anemia. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/iron-deficiency-anemia/. Accessed: April 2020.
  4. Kelly AU, et al. Interpreting Iron Studies. BMJ 2017;357:j2513.