What Are High Ferritin Levels?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Ferritin levels in women usually hover between 13 and 150 nanograms per milliliter.
Ferritin levels in women usually hover between 13 and 150 nanograms per milliliter.

High ferritin levels are unusually high levels of ferritin, a compound the body uses to store iron in its tissues so it will be available when it is necessary. A doctor can order a blood test to check on levels of this compound if she suspects a patient may have a disorder related to abnormal ferritin levels. The test can include evaluation for other compounds to provide a complete picture of the patient's health, along with references the doctor can use to rule out some possible causes if the patient's ferritin levels are higher than they should be.

Ferritin levels in men hover between 30 to 400 nanograms per milliliter.
Ferritin levels in men hover between 30 to 400 nanograms per milliliter.

To test levels of this compound, a doctor needs a blood sample. In women, ferritin levels usually hover between 13 and 150 nanograms per milliliter, while men have a slightly higher range, from 30 to 400 nanograms per milliliter. Some labs may use different frames of reference, and ferritin levels may be considered high at the top end of this range or when they fall outside it.

High ferritin levels may cause fatigue.
High ferritin levels may cause fatigue.

One potential cause of high ferritin levels is inflammation. A doctor can request a C-reactive protein test at the same time to check for a common inflammatory marker. If the test has high results, it will explain the ferritin levels. If the results are normal or low, it suggests that the patient may have an underlying problem, like an iron storage disorder leading to iron overload. Hemochromatosis, sideroblastic anemia, and hemolytic anemia can all be associated with high ferritin levels.

High ferritin levels may cause muscle aches and pains.
High ferritin levels may cause muscle aches and pains.

Patients with too much iron stored in their bodies can experience symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and heart problems. Usually these symptoms emerge progressively over time. Patients with moderately high levels may have no symptoms, and could feel generally healthy. As the levels rise and the condition becomes chronic, the patient will start to experience increasing symptoms. A doctor may evaluate a patient for an iron storage disorder on the grounds of family history, symptoms, or a desire to be very thorough with a physical examination.

High ferritin levels may cause heart problems.
High ferritin levels may cause heart problems.

If a patient has high ferritin levels, the doctor needs to determine why, to develop an appropriate treatment plan. This may include medications, dietary recommendations, and other measures. It may also be necessary to conduct repeat testing on a regular basis to track the patient's iron levels and determine if the patient is responding to treatment. Patients with a history of high ferritin levels should make sure it is in their charts so care providers know to be aware of it during diagnostic evaluations.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

ysmina

@feruze-- No, they're not the same. Ferritin is a protein that attaches to iron and stores it. It's also responsible for releasing it.

Medical testing shows serum ferritin levels and iron levels separately. The iron in tests is active iron, or the iron currently in your bloodstream. Ferritin is stored iron, it's the iron not in the bloodstream but stored elsewhere for future use.

burcidi

My daughter has been diagnosed with hemochromatosis. Her ferritin levels were constantly high in tests regardless of diet changes. She finally had genetic testing done which tested positive for this condition.

We were really worried at first but her doctor said that high ferritin levels in blood can be easily treated by donating blood. She's going to be donating blood every once in a while which is supposed to reduce her ferritin levels.

bear78

Ferritin and iron are tested for separately correct? If there are high ferritin levels in blood, does that mean that iron is high as well?

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    • Ferritin levels in women usually hover between 13 and 150 nanograms per milliliter.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      Ferritin levels in women usually hover between 13 and 150 nanograms per milliliter.
    • Ferritin levels in men hover between 30 to 400 nanograms per milliliter.
      By: Syda Productions
      Ferritin levels in men hover between 30 to 400 nanograms per milliliter.
    • High ferritin levels may cause fatigue.
      By: BlueSkyImages
      High ferritin levels may cause fatigue.
    • High ferritin levels may cause muscle aches and pains.
      By: Yoanna Boyadzhieva
      High ferritin levels may cause muscle aches and pains.
    • High ferritin levels may cause heart problems.
      By: lightwavemedia
      High ferritin levels may cause heart problems.
    • A blood sample can be taken to test levels of ferritin in the body.
      By: JPC-PROD
      A blood sample can be taken to test levels of ferritin in the body.