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Can Menopause Cause High Iron Levels

What Are The Symptoms Of High Ferritin

Elevated Iron and Ferritin: Recipe for a Living Hell

Ferritin that is elevated because of an infection or inflammation does not cause symptoms. Of course, infection and inflammation usually do cause symptoms!

Ferritin that is elevated because of iron overload also does not cause symptoms. Remember that in this case ferritin is elevated as a reflection of excess iron. Therefore, symptoms depend on which body parts are affected by iron buildup.

A few examples of the damage that excess iron causes to organs or tissue include:

  • Diabetes, from damage to the pancreas
  • Arthritis
  • Fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver
  • Heart failure or arrhythmias

The wide variety of symptoms is one reason that iron overload was difficult to diagnose before ferritin and iron testing became routine!

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Treating The Underlying Cause

Your GP will also need to ensure;the underlying cause of your anaemia is treated so;it doesn’t happen again.

For example, if;non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are causing bleeding in your stomach, your GP may prescribe a different medicine to help minimise the risk of stomach bleeding.

Heavy periods can;be treated with;medication or ;in particularly severe cases ;surgery.

Referral To A Specialist

In some cases, your GP may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in treating digestive conditions. They’ll carry out a more thorough examination.

For example, you may be referred to a gastroenterologist if your GP can’t identify a cause and you have a particularly low haemoglobin level, or if your GP thinks there’s a possibility your symptoms could be caused by stomach cancer or;bowel cancer, although this is unlikely.

If you’re a woman with heavy periods, you may be referred to a gynaecologist if you don’t respond to treatment with iron supplements.

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What Causes Iron Overload

Possibilities of HIGH Iron and factors to rule out

  • The risk of developing excess iron levels increase with age
  • Alcohol consumption, heavy alcohol use, alcoholism
  • OTC and prescription drugs, NSAIDs, oral contraceptives and taking supplements that contain iron can increase iron levels
  • Hemochromatosis . Those with hemochromatosis often have genetic mutations that predispose them to hemochromatosis
  • Viral infections
  • Intestinal permeability aka leaky gut resulting in increased absorption of iron
  • Hidden infections. Pathogenic microbes thrive in an iron-rich environment
  • Multiple blood transfusions
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Oxidative stress, glycation and cellular aging
  • Poor memory, dementia, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative brain disorders including Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons
  • Breast cancer. Researchers are concluding that high iron is an early breast cancer detection based on the tendency of cancer cells to accumulate iron.
  • Increased risk of cancer. High iron is a common finding with colon cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate, breast, liver and lung cancer

What About Conventional Medicine

An Often Overlooked Cause of Fatigue: Low Ferritin ...

Your doctor will discuss treatment options that may work for you, including a contraceptive pill or;HRT, which influence your hormones to regulate your periods. However, its important to be aware of the potential side effects of these treatments. Your doctor may also give you medication to stop your menstrual flow quickly, particularly if your periods are very heavy or prolonged.;

If youre worried that your heavy periods are caused by an underlying health issue or are causing anemia, then its also important to visit your doctor. Heavy periods are not something to be ignored, as blood loss can be detrimental to your health.

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All Those Tests On My Lab Report Arent Just A Waste Of Money

As you saw, on the surface, ferritin is simple.; It stores iron.

Beneath the surface, ferritin levels play a crucial role in helping doctors interpret the meaning of numerous other blood test results. And ferritin itself is often interpreted with the help of other tests.

One day, you will get another lab report with a long list of blood tests youve never heard of. And you will know that collectively, those tests really do help your doctor help you to stay healthy!

Iron Overload Diet: Success Stories

The trip to Disney World with her five-year-old granddaughter was supposed to be fun, but Kathy Repetto was struggling to keep up with the child. Each time they stepped off a ride, Kathy had to look for a spot to sit and rest.This is miserable, she admitted to herself. Im exhausted and sweating my rear off.

Kathy had a slew of health concerns, including fluctuating iron levels, diabetes. and high blood pressure. So when her brother just 13 months older had a heart attack, Kathy feared she could be next. I wanted to be more like my mother, who at 82 could still run circles around the family.

With the help of her local TOPS support group, Kathy found the strength to make healthy changes. She traded processed foods for wholesome choices and donated blood every 56 days.;

Kathys iron levels came into balance and she shed 122 pounds in 11 months without exercise! It can be a real struggle after menopause, but I lost every single week. Health perks followed: Kathys doctor reduced her blood pressure and diabetes medications.;

Im able to love myself again, Kathy shares. And best of all, she is an inspiration for the next generation. I can play on the floor with the grandchildren and jump up in an instant!;

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Should I Change My Diet

Your healthcare provider will probably suggest that you:

  • Avoid iron pills, iron injections, multivitamins containing iron and iron-fortified, processed foods.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked fish and shellfish. They may contain bacteria that cause infections and complications in people with disease.
  • Limit alcohol to protect your liver.
  • Limit vitamin C.

High Ferritin Levels Can Also Be Caused By Inflammation

How much iron does a woman need during menopause?

High ferritin which is your storage form of iron can also be caused by inflammation, and it is important to distinguish between high iron caused by iron overload, and high iron caused by inflammation as the treatment will be very different.

A good way to test to find out if your iron is elevated by inflammation is to also test for HsCRP which is sensitive inflammation marker, the reference range is usually 0-6 but ideally you want to be less than 2. Another marker to measure is HbA1C which is a marker of glycation of red blood cells, this will be elevated with insulin resistance as well as inflammation, the ideal levels is below 5.4

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Treatments For Iron Deficiency Anemia

The main goals of anemia treatment are to increase red blood cell count, treat the underlying cause, prevent further complications, and relieve symptoms to improve one’s overall quality of life.

As such, depending on the underlying cause of the iron deficiency anemia during menopause, there are various treatment choices women can pursue.

For women who have an inadequate intake of iron, their first line of action would be to consume an iron-rich diet.

An iron-rich diet should be filled with a healthy balance of meat ; poultry ; leafy greens like collard or turnip greens, broccoli, or kale; legumes; fish; and iron-enriched food products that include pastas, cereals, grains, and more.

Alongside iron-rich foods, women should also aim to consume adequate amounts of vitamin B12 from meat, dairy products, and fortified options as well as folate, found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, peanuts, fruits, and more. A deficiency in both can cause also lead to anemia. Also, do not forget vitamin C to increase iron absorption.

Depending on the severity of the anemia, their doctors may also recommend iron supplements in the form of elemental iron. Beware that supplementation can cause higher levels of stored iron in the body, which has been scientifically found to lead to a greater incidence of heart disease, especially in postmenopausal women.

Are Certain People More Likely To Have Primary Hemochromatosis

The inherited form of hemochromatosis is more common in white people with ancestors from Northern Europe. Its less common in people with African-American, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian descent.

Men have hemochromatosis more than women. Women lose iron when they get their periods or have babies. Their bodies also store less iron. Hemochromatosis is also more common in older people because iron toxicity takes years to develop.

Other factors that increase the chances of developing hemochromatosis include alcohol abuse and a family history of:

  • Arthritis.

If you potentially have hemochromatosis, your healthcare provider will:

  • Ask if your parents ever had iron overload, liver disease or other related diseases.
  • Ask if you take iron supplements, by mouth or injection.
  • Ask if you take extra vitamin C, which can boost absorption of iron.
  • Check your joints for pain.
  • Listen to your heart for an irregular beat.
  • Look at your skin to see if the color is off.
  • Press near your liver to test for pain.

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Does Menopause Affect White Blood Count

does menopause affect white blood count ? we always hear about;menopause, white blood cell count and many other medical terms without understanding them, So, to help everyone to understand these medical terms; our teamwork on recent research studies site decided to explain these terms beside understanding a new study which connects between menopause and white blood cells.

How To Interpret Your Iron Group

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If your inflammation levels are high and your ferritin is in the optimal zone, look at your total iron binding capacity, or TIBC, level. TIBC is similar to transferrin, a major iron transporting protein. High levels of TIBC and transferrin indicate high levels of iron binding capacity in other words, your body has a lot of feelers out for iron to absorb and you should increase your intake of iron.3,11 Normal ferritin levels with normal TIBC levels is a good indication that you are likely meeting your iron needs, regardless of inflammation.

Normal ferritin with high levels of TIBC can indicate that you arent getting enough iron.

In fact, for female InsideTracker users with optimal levels of ferritin, the average TIBC level was significantly higher for those with hsCRP levels greater than 1 mg/L compared to females with hsCRP below 1 mg/L .

Another interesting scenario is a sharp drop in serum iron and TS with subsequent increases in WBC or hsCRP.

Since a spike in hepcidin caused by inflammation or infection causes iron to be removed from circulation, these are expected fluctuations and will likely resolve themselves after the inflammation has subsided.3

So, do you know what your iron and inflammation levels are? InsideTracker can help you interpret your values and develop a personalized plan for getting them into your optimal range. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on the best way to improve low ferritin levels.

Ashley Reaver, MS, RD, CSSD

References:

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Why Does Menopause Cause Heavy Periods

Your natural menstrual cycle is driven by your hormones. Menopause;is the time when your hormone levels fall significantly and you no longer experience menstrual periods. In the lead up to menopause, your hormone levels may fluctuate erratically, causing changes to your menstrual cycle, including heavy periods.

During a normal menstrual cycle, the hormone estrogen is produced to stimulate the thickening of the lining of the womb. When the egg is released from the ovaries, they produce the hormone progesterone.;

The interplay of these two hormones helps regulate your periods, making them just rightnot too heavy, not too light. However, as you approach menopause, the ovaries sometimes dont release an egg, but estrogen is produced nonetheless. As a result, there isnt enough progesterone to balance the effects of estrogen, leading to heavy periods.

During perimenopause, you may encounter other factors which could result in heavy periods, ranging from;stress;to the side effects of medication. If you suspect that your heavy periods have a different underlying cause, talk to your doctor about it.

How Is Low Ferritin Treated

Low ferritin can be treated by consuming iron, either through food or in a supplement. In severe cases, a doctor can infuse iron directly into the body.

Iron in food comes in two different forms: heme and non-heme.

The body can absorb the heme form of iron more easily. Heme iron is found in meat, fish, and poultry. The highest concentrations are in red meat and liver.

Non-heme iron is the iron found in plants: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, beans, tofu, seeds, and nuts. Foods that are fortified with iron are fortified with non-heme iron. Although most of the iron that we eat comes from plant sources, non-heme iron is not absorbed as efficiently as iron from meat, fish, and poultry.

Eating heme-iron foods along with non-heme iron foods can increase the amount of non-heme iron that the body absorbs. Foods with Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and beta carotene can also increase the absorption of non-heme iron.

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An Introduction To Heavy Periods And Menopause

In the lead-up to menopause, a phenomenon known as perimenopause, many women experience changes in their normal;menstrual cycle, including unusually heavy bleeding, a symptom usually accompanied by;irregular periods. Women may go for several months without a period and then experience particularly heavy bleeding, or they may find that their periods are frequent and abundant.

Aside from the obvious inconvenience this can entail, heavy bleeding may also lead to other health problems, such as anemia, a condition that can be caused by insufficient levels of iron in the body, the symptoms of which include extreme;exhaustion and weakness.

While its common for women approaching menopause to suffer from heavy periods, its important to remember that prolonged bleeding is something you should have checked by your doctor. Bleeding for longer than a week each month is not healthy.

What Are Normal Iron Levels For Men

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Without hemochromatosis, normal iron levels for men total roughly four to five grams in the body. However, in iron overload, a man may not have any symptoms until he has stored twenty grams a significant difference!

Awareness and early diagnosis are essential to help men find out if they are, in fact, at risk of having too much iron in their bodies.

Doctors will often check a patients ferritin level to determine their overall iron burden. In men, normal ferritin levels range from 20 to 300 ng/mL. As iron builds up in a mans body over time, his ferritin level also rises. The higher the ferritin level gets, the more doctors become concerned about the long-term consequences of iron overload developing. For instance, if ferritin exceeds 1,000 ng/mL, the risk of liver damage increases significantly.

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You Have Type 2 Diabetes

There are numerous studies that associate Iron overload and Type 2 diabetes.; This doesnt mean that the high Ferritin value or Hemochromatosis is causing one to develop diabetes, but does indicate that it is a side effect and can accelerate inflammation and/or affect ones ability to control the diabetes naturally.;The iron can deposit in the pancreas and can cause a decrease in insulin production.; Data has shown that high ferritin approximately doubles the risk for metabolic syndrome after accounting for age, race, alcohol, and smoking7.

TIP: Insulin sensitivity can improve when Iron levels are lowered.; The findings in a study published by the American Diabetes Association suggests that bloodletting might contribute as an adjuvant treatment in patients who have type 2 diabetes with increased ferritin concentrations7.; The effects of bloodletting in this study indicated that the changes in insulin sensitivity were maintained even 1 year after the procedure8.

Hemochromatosis And Bone Loss In Men

Most people, doctors included, forget that men can get osteoporosis or loss of bone mineral density. Its usually thought of as a womens condition.

However, not only can men get osteoporosis, but men with genetic hemochromatosis are significantly at risk of developing bone loss.

A 2005 study looked at 38 men with hereditary hemochromatosis, with an average age of 47. All of these men had two copies of the HFE gene. Other markers that impact bone loss, such as vitamin D and parathyroid hormone levels, were normal.

The study found that 78.9% of these men had already developed osteopenia and 34.2% had full-blown osteoporosis!

Thats a high percentage of men with bone loss. If youre a man with iron overload, be sure to ask your doctor to test your bone mineral density.

And yes, they may think youre a bit strange, as often men are not routinely tested, but if it helps, you may refer them to this study to back up your request.

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What Is Iron And Why Do I Need It

Iron is a mineral found in certain foods. Your body needs iron to:

  • Help hemoglobin in blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.
  • Make red blood cells.
  • Produce certain hormones.

Normally, your intestines absorb just the right amount of iron from the food you eat. But with hemochromatosis, the body absorbs extra iron and stores it in your organs, especially your heart, liver and pancreas.

If Treatment Is Ineffective

Iron Deficiency Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

If your iron levels don’t improve, your GP will ask how regularly you’ve been taking your iron supplements.

Some people are put off taking the medication because of the side effects. However, your condition won’t improve if you don’t take the supplements.

If you’ve been taking the supplements as prescribed and your iron levels still haven’t improved, your GP may refer you to a specialist for an assessment.

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How Do You Know If You Are Iron Deficient

So what are the common symptoms of low iron? This is where it gets really confusing because a lot of low iron symptoms are menopause symptoms as well, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between the two of them.

So the common ones are fatigue and just feeling generally weak. You know that you can’t rustle up the energy to do anything. It can be hair loss, thinning hair, and very brittle nails. It can be pale, dull skin. You can get cold hands and cold feet.

Even if you’re getting hot flushes and sweats, if you find that your hands and feet tend to be cold all the time, that can be a good indication. It can be dizziness, that’s another factor. You can get, not particularly common, but you can get a swollen tongue or a tingly tongue. And you can also get tingling in the legs and a fast or irregular heartbeat.

So as you can see, these symptoms can be mistaken for menopausal anxiety and basic just low oestrogen symptoms.

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