Advice needed

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Hi all,

I'm new here so please forgive me if this has been posted before!

I've just been to see a GP in Germany (l'm studying abroad this year, usually in the UK) about my worries about low iron levels. I've been tested for anaemia before but only haemoglobin-wise, not for the levels of ferritin and the like that I've been reading about here, if that makes sense. I've been having chest pains for the past couple of weeks and some other symptoms before that, but I wondered if it sounds like iron deficiency or something else. I get really bad health anxiety so doctors tend to dismiss me even when I'm genuinely concerned about something.

Context:

Age: 20

Have been vegetarian for 4 years and was pescetarian for years before that

Mum was anaemic when she was pregnant with me and so was my brother when he was younger (he had loads of nosebleeds, though)

I used to have quite heavy periods but have been taking the pill since Janua this year so they're now vaguely normal

Symptoms:

Headaches

Fatigue (can't function without napping)

Restless legs at night

Looking pale (grey/blue bags under my eyes)

Pins and needles in my hands and feet more often than usual

Feeling breathless + chest pains

I'm going for a blood test next Tuesday but I have no idea if these symptoms are anxiety or not. Can anyone relate to this or is there anything else I should know?

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    I'm sorry to hear about these very unpleasant symptoms and to hear how worried you are. It must be worse for you as you are away from familiar home surroundings and in a different culture. I have several similar symptoms to you and I was diagnosed with anaemia 2 years ago. I'm not a medical person, but I'd say you can be reassured that there is treatment for low iron levels that will keep you feeling well and able to function almost as normal. I have regular iron infusions every 3 months or so. The doctors will want to find out the cause of your anaemia (they've not found anything for mine yet despite lots of tests) but in the meantime you do not have to fear any dire reactions. But you do need to get the anemia treated. Your health anxiety will not affect your iron levels, but can affect how you react to them so I urge you to find some kind of activity preferably in the fresh air which will absorb your mind and take your thoughts away from your self for a while. I'm much older than you and have time to go out, but I expect you're busy - but walking outside whenever you get a spare moment, even if it's just a slow amble for a few minutes a day,  will clear your mind (at least it helps me). Good luck with your appointment on Tuesday. Coincidentally I have a hospital appointment on Tuesday, too. This time I'm seeing a haemotologist to see if he has any ideas about the causes. We'll keep our fingers crossed for one another!

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    • Posted

      Hi Capsicum,

      Thanks for your quick reply - it was very reassuring. The chest pains got steadily worse yesterday so I went to the out-of-hours gp equivalent and they ran some tests - turns out my haemoglobin, haematocrit and mean corpuscular haemoglobin are all on the v low side of normal for the reference ranges given:

      Hb : 12.7g/dl (12-16)

      Haematocrit : 37.7g/dl (37-48)

      MCH : 28.5 g/dl (28-34)

      ... but the doctor seemed to think it was all fine. The thing is, when I last had my haemoglobin tested, it was well into the normal range (E.G. pretty much slap bang in the middle) so surely the drop has to mean something? I have another test next week to try and figure it out. Good luck with your appointment!

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    • Posted

      The consultant is arranging a CT scan of chest/abdomen for me in 3 weeks time - it's another attempt to see if there is a cause for the anaemia that can be treated. I also get pains - but not always in the same place. I think anaemia can cause aches and pains / cramps etc . Good luck with the appointment next week. By the way, your results are on the low side but they are not dangerously low (I've been down to 5 for the Hb which is very low indeed) and as you're having more tests they're obviously keeping a close eye on it. Try not to worry - it seems you are in safe hands and that lack of iron can be treated if it gets worse (let's hope it steadies now). Let us know how you get on. Meanwhile, enjoy what you do in your life. Good luck!

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  • Posted

    Got my results back and the Dr says I have an iron deficiency (ferritin was 23 in reference range 25-150, forgot what the units were) and also am a bit low on B12 so he has prescribed me a liquid formula for the former and tablets for the latter. However, none of the pharmacies I've been to so far have had the liquid iron thing - saying it's 'nicht mehr lieferbar', aka no longer available. Should I try to buy it online or are there any similar drops that anyone could recommend?

    I think they're called Ferro Sanol Tropfen (drops)... Can't seem to find any info about them in English but here's a German description 😂

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