High Ferritin

Hello, newbie on here so hope this is ok to ask. In January this year, I went to the doctor as was feeling generally tired and little motivation. I had been tracking my drinking in November and December and it was high, averaging 50 units per week. I stopped on the 3rd Jan and the doctor referred me for a LFT. The results came back as high ferritin (over 500 from memory). I have had 2-3 days since where I have had a drink, the most being  bottle of wine in an evening, and I have eaten healthily. I was confident my result would have improved. I did the blood test in March, just over 2 months later and the result came back as no problems. I was elated and had a couple of drinks at Easter to celebrate. I went to the GP today for an unrelated matter and she said that my results had come back with the ferritin levels increased even more and I was given incorrect information on the phone. I am devastated. She has asked me to do another LFT and I am being referred for a scan on my liver. Can I ask if anyone has any experience of how the ferritin levels could have increased even though I had abstained from alcohol in the 2 months between tests, except for 2 days. I am a 42 yr old male, no other health issues, no other symptoms of liver disease. Many thanks.

6 Replies

  • Hi Trigg

    My husband had similar symptoms, constantly tired being the main one.  He had tests and his ferritin level was found to be sky high (1,350).  He had further tests and it was discovered he has hereditary hemachromotosis, which is a genetic iron disorder, that can harm the liver.  It is very manageable if discovered early so it might be an idea to mention this condition to your doctor so it can either be confirmed or ruled out.

    All the very best to you.


  • I agree you need testing for Hemachromostatis. Many GPs are not even aware of this condition, if it appears you have it you will need genetic testing too. As will siblings and any children you have. 

  • I dont think its the alcohol that is affecting the ferritin levels, but i may be wrong.  However you are drinking way way over the recommended units which are now 14 a week - one bottle of wine is around 10 units so thats most of your allowance on one day.

    Do your liver a favour, and your health and if you cant cut out alcohol (and all the sugar that goes with it which is bad for your waistline), then reduce to 14 units a week.

  • Hi thanks for the replies, which are much appreciated. I spoke to the nurse today, who said the doctor said I can have a couple of drinks tomorrow for my birthday (!) so they cannot be that concerned. My liver scan request has been sent off, so hopefully that will throw some light on the matter and I will ask about the hemachromotosis. My genetic dad was an alcoholic and is no longer with us, and I did not know too much about him, so it will be difficult for me to ask his family if they have the condition, but hopefully the doctors will test for it if I mention it now. 

    Either way it is a bit of a wake up call.  

  • Just re read your post.  Are you sure its ferritin that is the high level?  You mention having LFT blood tests but ferritin is not part of the Liver Function Profile, its a separate test.  Are you sure its not the GGT or gamma-glutamyl transferase as thats the one affected by alcohol.

    Ive just found this in the British Medical Journal:

    "Elevated ferritin levels are usually due to causes such as acute or chronic inflammation, chronic alcohol consumption, liver disease, renal failure, metabolic syndrome, or malignancy rather than iron overload

    Exclude these causes clinically or with initial tests such as full blood count, liver and renal function, and inflammatory markers (C reactive protein or erythrocyte sedimentation rate)

    A normal serum transferrin saturation (ideally fasting) usually excludes iron overload (where it is raised) and suggests a reactive cause for raised ferritin

    Unexplained serum ferritin values >1000 μg/L warrant referral for further investigation

    Consider HFE mutation screen for hereditary haemochromatosis in individuals with elevated ferritin and a raised transferrin saturation >45%"

  • Hi Bolly, Yes they did 6 separate tests and 2 of them came back with a concern, but ferritin was definitely the one that was over 500 and the one they re-tested on. I asked the nurse what the raised level was now, but she said she was not trained to read my notes... Unfortunately the doctor was off sick today (!), so I will probably have to try and get a phone appointment for next week. The doctors seem quite relaxed about it, but I am very worried. 

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