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
  • Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • Megaloblastic Anemia
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Cancer
  • Metal Toxicity
  • Hemolytic Anemia

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:
omnivorous diet
moving white lines across nails
moderate heavy metal toxicity
long-term sleep surplus
aluminum-based antacid use
recent breastfeeding
highly elevated basophil count
microcytic red cells
severe abdominal pain
exposure to old building materials
treated wood exposure
pernicious anemia, no longer treated
... 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
Hemochromatosis 98% Confirm
Hemolytic Anemia 24% Unlikely
Chronic Inflammation 21% Unlikely
Metal Toxicity 5% Ruled out
Megaloblastic Anemia 5% Ruled out
Cancer 3% Ruled out
Iron Deficiency Anemia 2% 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:
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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