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.

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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
pernicious anemia, no longer treated
somewhat elevated basophil count
severe fatigue after slight exertion
darker/redder skin color
long-term sleep surplus
joint pain/swelling/stiffness
elevated TIBC
severe abdominal pain
being easily irritated
elevated ferritin levels
... 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:
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