Cause of high ferritin?: I had a thyroid... - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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Cause of high ferritin?

GlosterGirl profile image

I had a thyroid blood test because my mother was being investigated for thyroid problems. Everything looked fine, except a ferritin level of 400.I followed up with an iron panel and, again, everything fine, except a ferritin level of 475.

Talked to my GP about it and they refuse to do anything (Not even a blood test) because I admitted to drinking a couple of glasses of wine with my dinner every day.

I quit alcohol immediately - two weeks ago.

Happy to stay off the wine for the foreseeable, if there is a reason for it. But how can I tell if there is any “Improvement” if I don’t know the actual problem, or the scale of it, to start with?

20 Replies

Hi GlosterGirl.By giving up the wine, they will be able to rule out alcohol as a cause. At this stage it is a process of elimination in investigating the problem. Be patient, don't worry, you will get the answers.


Thanks, Laura. But how long do I give it before expecting to see a reduction? The doctor is not giving out any information at all!

Good question there's no hard fast rule. It seems to vary from person to person.

It's quite an important question - are we talking days, weeks,years?

Possibly months but the person best placed to answer any of your concerns would be your GP as no one here is medically trained.

Have you been checked for haemachromatosis. This is a gene passed down with gives too much iron in your blood. Causes high ferritin reading if not dealt with. Just a thought.

GlosterGirl profile image
GlosterGirl in reply to 53PM63

Haven't been checked for anything. The blood tests were private and supplied to my GP as a basis for discussion and planning. They will not do anything at all until I "make some lifestyle changes". Pretty unspecific and unhelpful IMNSHO. I'm happy to fund investigations but not confident of what to do next. My job depends on having a current medical.

As you have been advised to make lifestyle changes by your doctor before they can do anything else, then that's what you have to do. Yes maybe they should have been more specific by what they mean by that but your GP may be concerned about your diet. It means giving up alcohol, (you were absolutely right to tell him about the wine you were drinking) eat healthily... by avoiding high fat, high sugar foods ... basically junk food and takeaways. Drink plenty of water, eat fruit and veg, avoiding too much vit C at this stage, and a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and calcium, meat, fish and eggs etc. Get regular daily exercise. If anything else your GP said which wasn't clear, phone or email them with your queeries.

I don’t eat sugar or drink sugary drinks anyway. Rarely have a takeaway and don’t buy convenience food. I quit alcohol when told. My argument is , if you don’t know where you are starting from, how can you know if there is any improvement?

Because you will have follow up tests your starting point was ferritin level of 400 and475

I was going to mention hemochromatosis as well. I was never a drinker, not even wine with dinner but I have fibrosis/NASH. (It has improved to NAFDL with serious diet). At diagnosis my iron levels were a little high and my liver specialist explained that liver disease can cause that and to avoid vitamins with iron and vitamin C. Recently I had to have a D&C due to post menopausal bleeding. A few weeks after I made my first ever blood donation and they told my my iron was high. Due to this, combined with my improved liver, I’m going to ask my primary care doctor to test me for genetic hemochromatosis. Which is a common occurrence in people from you part of the world. I’m American, which means my heritage is all mixed up, but I do have a lot English, northern Irish and Scottish heritage( as well as Italian and German). I think if you can find someone to test you, it’s worth looking into. If you catch it early you can catch it early, many very serious health conditions can be prevented.

I had to do blood letting to get rid of hemochromatosis as I'm a male.Women rarely get hemochromoatosis due to menstruation.

I have haemachromatosis, women do get it just for some the impacts come on later due to their periods. At diagnosis my ferritin was 700. Ferritin goes up and down with lots of things though. The key indicator is Transferrin Saturation. TSAT, this may be in your iron panel, GPs often miss it. A high tsat will be enough to get a genetic test.

GlosterGirl profile image
GlosterGirl in reply to summer72

My TSAT is normal, as is the rest of the iron panel. So I don’t think haemochromatosis is the problem. I’m perfectly prepared to believe that alcohol is a problem but, without knowing if there is liver damage/fatty liver or anything else, I don’t see that we can ever know there is an “improvement”. To understand the situation we need a start state and that requires testing. My GP basically said, go away, and gave no indication of timescale to revisit. I have even said I will have private testing - as my blood tests were.

Give yourself 3 months of abstinence then ask about retesting. That's what they usually do for LFT's that come back slightly elevated to check if it was a blip or if there is a pattern. With 3 months of abstinence you'll hopefully see the ferritin issue rectify and if not then that's when you can push for follow up.

I take it they did the full lot of liver bloods for this look at your family thyroid issue and were others ok?

Your doctor should be willing to do routine blood tests to check your liver health especially once the 'lifestyle factor' is removed from the equation.

All the best.


Nothing at all. No thyroid tests, no liver tests. The tests I had were ones I paid for.

I meant what blood tests did you have that picked up the raised ferritin level? It sounds like they ran a panel if they could tell your iron was ok etc.

I know your doctor hasn't run any but what tests did you have in the first place that came up with this raised ferritin issue?


I had a thyroid panel because my mother was having a radioactive thyroid scan. That picked up up the high ferritin (400) with everything else normal. The GP said an iron panel was ordered but then, when I called to book a date, said no non-urgent tests until at least November. So I paid for an iron panel - ferritin even higher (475) and everything else normal. I’m not obese (BMI 24.5), not diabetic and don’t know of any other diseases/conditions.

With everything else being normal I am assuming they have run liver bloods too as it would be pretty standard. The issue therefore may just be your glass of vino each night so it seems wise to remain abstinent and then get re-tested in 3 months so that will bring you round to the November/December time and hopefully then you can get a full set of Liver Function Tests, Kidney Function Tests, Full Blood Count etc. and hopefully get the all clear then.

With the shortage of blood test tubes at present even those who are being routinely monitored for proven liver illnesses etc. arn't getting bloods just now so with all else being 'normal' you probably can wait till the November test and hopefully the lack of vino will have made ferritin level come down.


No liver bloods.

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