Iron Tests

What are iron tests?

Iron tests are blood tests that measure both the amount of iron in your blood and your body’s ability to use iron.

Why is this test done?

Iron is a mineral that is important to all cells in your body. Iron helps blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to your body. Iron helps your body digest food. It is important in growth and muscle development and brain function.

The iron tests may help:

  • Find out why you are anemic (Anemia means you don’t have enough blood cells to carry oxygen to the cells in your body, or the blood cells are not normal and can’t carry oxygen well.)
  • Diagnose some diseases, such as liver disease or a disease that affects iron levels, such as celiac disease
  • Check if you have a disease that causes a dangerous buildup of iron in the body

How do I prepare for this test?

  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the test. Food and drink before the test may affect the results. Do not drink juices with vitamin C, like orange or grapefruit juice, for 3 days before the test.
  • You may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that you are taking. Ask your provider before stopping any of your regular medicines. Do not take iron or vitamin C supplements for 3 days before the test.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from your arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the results of your test.

What do the test results mean?

Results that are higher or lower than normal may mean that you have:

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Long-term blood loss
  • An inability to use iron
  • Liver disease from infection or alcoholism
  • Too much iron in your diet
  • A buildup of iron in your body

What if my test results are not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your results and ask questions such as:

  • If you need more tests
  • What kind of treatment you might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes you might need to make
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-09-03
Last reviewed: 2014-09-04
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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