Your Serum Iron Level

What Causes Abnormal Serum Iron Levels?

Abnormal serum iron levels can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'life-threatening'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose abnormal serum iron levels, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "abnormal serum iron levels" as a symptom.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • Metal Toxicity
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Megaloblastic Anemia
  • Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • Hemolytic Anemia
  • Cancer

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
significant history of cysts
exposure to old building materials
low folic acid level
partial vegetarian diet
elevated liver enzymes
severe fatigue after slight exertion
history of endometrial cancer
vision disturbances
jaundiced skin
severe mid-right abdominal pain
history of gout
numb/burning/tingling extremities
... and more than 40 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of abnormal serum iron levels:
Cause Probability Status
Metal Toxicity 92% Confirm
Chronic Inflammation 28% Unlikely
Megaloblastic Anemia 15% Unlikely
Hemolytic Anemia 2% Ruled out
Hemochromatosis 1% Ruled out
Iron Deficiency Anemia 0% Ruled out
Cancer 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Iron, serum. Unit: ug/dL [umol/L]
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ Under 20 [3.6] (very low)
→ 20-59 [3.6-10.6] (low)
→ 60-175 [10.7-31.3] (normal)
→ Over 175 [31.3] (high)
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate very low serum iron, low serum iron, normal serum iron or high serum iron, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Heavy Metal Toxicity

Elevated serum iron can occur in cases of lead poisoning.

Megaloblastic Anemia / Pernicious Anemia

Elevated serum iron can occur as a result of pernicious anemia.

... and also rule out issues such as: