Can low Ferritin cause such exhaustion? Any experiences?

Posted , 9 users are following.

Hi everyone, 

About a month ago my ferritin and haemoglobin were both 10- the doctor described the haemoglobin as being slightly below average but the ferritin as very low. 

Basically, a month on and I still feel permanently exhausted. Everything is hard work, I feel tired even when I've just woken up, sometimes I have to just lie down for 20 minutes in order to recharge so I can carry on with my day (not ideal as a uni student with lots of work!), in class sometimes I have to fight against not letting my eyes close. I've been taking Ferrous Fumerate, 420mg a day for a month but feel no different.

I guess I'm just concerned that this is something more than iron deficiency making me feel so drained. I would understand if my haemoglobin was very low, but surely low levels of Ferritin don't make you feel this exhausted?

Would appreciate hearing your own experiences of tiredness with low ferritin levels. I'm going to try and see the dr about this soon but in the mean time it would be nice to have some peace of mind.

Many thanks 

Edit: I've also been experiencing more and more a kind of restless leg type symptom in that I subconscious shake or jig my leg all the time, or have a restless feeling in my legs. Is this a symptom of iron deficiency or just a side effect of being so tired? 

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10 Replies

  • Posted


    Yes it can make you feel very exhausted, your legs feel very heavy and ache waking up stairs,however if the tablets dont work after  three months, i would really insist on further investigation, especially a colonendoscopy, I had no obvious bleeding but had  aneamia which turned out to be a cancer tumour in my colon, main sign is aneamia, I am not trying to worry you, but i wish someone told me.GP did not refer me for 2 years!!!! Treated me for anemia, negligent at primary level. happens all the time accoring to the Surgeon. Better be sfae then sorry.

    Hope this helps and does not worry you, but i need to get the message out there about not being refered early by GPs

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  • Posted


    Two months ago, I had similar questions. My hemoglobin was a bit lower than yours (8.1), but not nearly as low as some other people who have posted on this site. My ferritin was extremely low, though--it was only 2. My doctor was very concerned.

    Like you, I thought it must be something else (in addition to low ferritin) causing my extreme fatigue. (Washing my hair was exhausting, as was walking up just a couple stairs.)

    My doctor said oral iron can take up to 3 months to get you back to normal. I said I couldn't live like that for 3 months. She prescribed IV iron infusions and it has made a HUGE difference. I'm back to running and feel so much better.

    I hope you work this out with your doctor and feel better soon!

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  • Posted

    Hi Emily, sorry to hear how bad you feel, and really know how that feels. You must go back to your doctor, I just thought as I was going through the change and having other health issues it was just that and I was sick of saying how ill i felt and I was going through it all on my own thinking no one believes me. After collapsing one day, my husband took me straight back to the doctors saying you will have to do something for her or I feel she is going to die there is something wrong. I was sent to the hospital for routine blood test, before we got home my doctor was banging my front door down telling me to go straight back to hospital as there was a bed for me. I was given a blood transfusion and kept in for a week. I felt great, blood transfusions are gold, however you can only have a certain amount. It's 10 years on and I have iron tablets and iron infusions regularly and still I can go down to the count of 4 in a month. However at least I can see my haematology consultants if I feel the need, I just call the secretary and I get an appointment I don't even need to ask my doctor.i have had 2 colonoscopy over the years ad both times have had growths removed. I don't want to worry you but I suffered such a lot for a long time when I should of said I really don't feel well and I'm not leaving here until you send me for all the test you can think of. Do not suffer, Please go to your GP and don't be fobbed off. Good luck Emily. Do it for yourself and your family. Take care.

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  • Posted

    Hi, thanks for the rplies! 

    I am going to try and see a nurse or doctor tomorrow (fingers crossed!). My mum and sister both have iron deficiency anaemia, and after many investigations for both of them it was concluded that their bodies lacked the ability to successfully store ferritin. My doctor therefore thinks it is a hereditary condition, and combined with my age (20) and otherwise good health they don't seem overly worried. However, I might discuss further investigations just in case.

    I guess I'm just tired of being tired! Will try and be patient for the tablets to work and be kind to myself, allowing lots of rest etc.

    Sorry that you are all experiencing the same and best wishes to all of you. 

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  • Posted

    Low ferritin and normal iron, transferrin, red blood values all normal too,

    is already still called iron deficiency and can lead to extreme concentration problems already.

    As to why nobody knows as the red blood cells were not effected (yet) when ferritin was low. But it is known and experienced.

    This constellation needs to be treated already.

    When hemoglobin is effected as well, it is an anemia already. The red blood effected.

    The red blood takes 3-4 months for all red cells to be replaced (which is amazing looking at the amount of cells we are talking in liters of blood), hence that's why it takes time to see the effect.

    From my experience we don't tollerate oral iron well (belly pain), the liquid form in moderation better than the capsules,

    since my child can't have iron iv and had massive pain with menstruation/ovulation/hemorrhagic cyst ruptures,

    taking the contraceptive pill continuously (which is better than a withdraw bleed every 3 months, GPs still don't get that, Gyns know) helped her getting those levels up again indirectly - positive side effect-  (by less loss of iron via menstruation, also fissures-rectal bleeding was an issue that took months to heal, but not anymore since constipation is tackled successfully)

    Best of luck!

    (May I generally please suggest one thing to anyone when mentioning lab values: UNITS since we are a worldwide forum.

    I guess hemoglobin below 10g/dL, Ferrtin below 10 ng/ml (which is luckily the same as µg/L. )

    UNITS of number values are very important, because different countries use different units and hence a number can look abnormal or normal and is the other way round due to unit. Sometimes one country uses grams (like with glucose or cholesterol where I come from  in Europe), the other molecular weight (like in Australia), a whole different conversion again, not as easy as some g from ml into L. Please always add units that we can compare correct number values.

    But it seems pretty ok worldwide with iron study and red/white blood counts, but many other parameters are very different in units, hence number values not able to be compared without units. TA!)


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  • Posted

    Hi all, 

    I really appreciate you taking the time to reply to me so I thought I would update you. I saw the doctor this morning and he is not at all worried- in his words, they have screened for everything and there is nothing unusual. However he did also say that my symptoms may not be down to the ferritin and may just be 'one of those things'????? Which I completely don't understand as research has shown me many people experience symptoms with low ferritin and the doctor I saw last time said it was all due to the deficiency! 

    So rather confused, but none the less comforted that they have checked for everything (red&white blood counts, thyroid, celiac etc) and are not concerned.

    Thanks again for the help!

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  • Posted

    Yes low ferritin can make you feel very ill. I don't know what my haemaglobin was but when tested (after taking over the counter iron for months) my ferritin was 16 and I had to ask for iron tablets as it was still considered normal even though it was right at the bottom end! I felt very poorly at 16 so yes it can definitely make you feel as tired etc as you are describing. I had tiredness, palpitations, racing heart, headaches, tingling and numbness and couldnt concentrate or sleep well! I know mine was caused by extremely heavy periods but with that problem much better now I still think (after a year) my ferritin is probably not as high as could be. It can take a long time to buid up your stores, Hang in there though the iron tablets do help x

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  • Posted

    I'm having a lot of problems with my disabled son. He can't communicate but I feel like he is very poorly. He has symptoms of infection and it's been going on months. His legs keep going mottled and his hands and feet go freezing cold and white and sometimes blue. He is PEG fed and on 190mg of iron for the last 10 months. A recent blood test said his iron serum level was 6. Does anyone know if this will make my son poorly?

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  • Posted

    i am new to this site.

    i have ferritin of 10, iron of 60, hemagloblin of 15.

    i had graves disease; its in remission for 5 years.

    i am 61 and i worked 70 to 100 hours per week from the age of 25 to 54.

    i am so tired now, i can no longer work those hours; it feels like they are trying to force me to quit. many weeks are still 80 hour weeks.

    the tiredness combined with the pressure makes me pray everyday to god to end my suffering.

    in 2020, had two series of iron infusions; ferritin shot up to over 200 each time but dropped in the next couple of months. hematologist does not want to give anymore infusions because the infusions do not last and he says low ferritin is not a serious issue.

    in 2020 had a colonoscopy and endoscopy, both normal. then i had a capsule study and they said that they think that i have intermittent bleeding.

    i don't know where to turn or what to do

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