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How I Discovered My Iron was Low and I had Low Ferritin Levels My Hair was Falling Out!

Updated on February 28, 2013

I was freaking out I didn't know what to do!

You know the old saying momma knows best. Well in my case she did. My mom used to always tell me to take a daily vitamin supplement with iron. She would nag and nag me all the time. I blew her off and didn't listen. Well, let me tell you, I sure wish I listened to her. Years later as an adult female in my 30's I started noticing something, I would shower and handfuls of hair would fall out. Try brushing your hair and see it all over the sink. Well this is what happened to me. I noticed a lot of hair getting tangled in my fingers when I would shower. Then I noticed the sink would be full of hair after I stood by it and brushed. I didn't even what to brush my hair anymore. Forget wearing black my hair would be all over my shirt.

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How I found out I had Iron Deficiency and Low Ferritin Levels

I freaked out called the doctor, his answer was its stress. Well if its stress now I am more stressed out because my hair is falling out.

The doctor ordered blood work to be sure. Well good thing too, here my iron was low, very low the ferritin levels were low. So he started me on iron supplements a few times a day. After a few months I went back to be checked and my levels didn't increase, so then we tried shots, I think that was once a week for a while. That didn't work either so I was sent to a specialist.

The specialist sent me to have bone marrow aspiration. A bone marrow aspiration removes only the marrow. These tests are often done to find the reason for many blood disorders. The doctor wanted to be sure the blood work was accurate before taking the next step. He said blood work isn't always accurate and it would not be safe to give me too much iron. The test came back and confirmed my ferritin levels were low. The next step was to get iron giving to me intravenously. I ended up getting treatments once a week for 6 months. This worked and finally, my levels came up and I did notice my hair wasn't falling out anymore. I had energy! Yippee!!

I wanted to write this lens because I don't think a lot of people know that your hair falling out is a symptom of iron Deficiency and low ferritin levels. It took so long to find out what my problem was and how to treat it. I thought if someone else is having these symptoms they can tell their doctor to check their ferritin levels. I hope my experience can help someone.

Common Symptoms of Low Ferritin Levels

Symptoms of low ferritin levels include fatigue, dizziness, weakness and headaches. Loss of energy, brittle nails, pale color of the eyes, loss of libido and irritability. In case, you have an urge to eat non-food items (pico) or pacophagia (compulsive eating of ice), it might be linked to low ferritin levels. If these symptoms have been persisting for sometime, you must get a complete blood test done. In case, a routine blood test reveals a dip in the person's hemoglobin and the hemocrit, and smaller red blood cells, doctors might then ask you to get the ferritin test along with the other iron tests. An early phase of iron deficiency anemia can be detected by the low ferritin count. So, it becomes even more important to detect low ferritin levels, to stop the mild iron deficiency anemia from worsening.

Most articles I read on low iron do not include hair loss. I think this is why so many people are walking around with low iron and don't even know it.

I had the fatigue and, dizziness, weakness and didn't think nothing of it. I have four children and was busy all the time so I chalked up the tiredness to that. Once I was diagnosed it all made sense then. I remember thinking oh that is why I feel like collapsing and my arms sometimes feel to heavy to lift and when I stand quickly I get dizzy.

What is Ferritin

Ferritin is found in the cells of the body that binds iron and holds it in a storage form until the body is ready to use it. Although it plays an important role of its own within the cell, it's most important clinical use is as a means to measure how much iron is stored in the body.

Here are some links to other websites explaining what ferritin is

If you want to read more about ferritin and what it does click on the link below it might help answer any questions you may have.

What I struggle with now?

Ok, its been a while since I had to get the iron treatments. Call me paranoid but as soon as I notice more hair than usual falling out again I freak out and think oh no, my iron is getting low again. So what I struggle with now is, I am afraid to take too many iron supplements,because that is not good for you, but yet I don't want my levels to drop to the point of needing treatments. I can't run to the doctor every month for blood work, so I am always trying to decide if I need iron pills or not.

Help Its Happening Again!

Its took a good two years between trying to find out the problem and then trying pills then shots then finally the IV transfusions. I had to keep getting checked by the specialist. After my levels stayed up I didn't have to go back to the specialist anymore. I was good for a year or two after but now I am slowly seeing it start again. I take iron supplements and I have called and my Doctor and had my levels checked he says their good.

So now what's the problem. I am stumped, If its not my Iron now what? I wonder how I could have my hair falling out again, feel tired, granted not as bad as before but still tired and my iron levels are fine. I was wondering if maybe they are falling slowly but not low enough yet to get treated? Is there another cause?

I have found that doctors don't take it serious when you go to them saying your hair is falling out. Its seems they want to blame stress all the time. I haven't yet pushed the issue with the doctor but I think I will need to soon. I do remember him telling me that the levels had to be a certain number I don't remember the number but they had to be so low in order for him to send me for more treatments. So basically I have to feel like crap and be going bald in order to get help.

Do you know why its falling out? Was it low iron levels? Did you find out it was some other reason? I would love to hear your story maybe it will help me. Feel free to post below!

If you are having trouble with your hair falling out or low ferritin levels please share with me!

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      deeric 2 years ago

      What brand of iron helped your ferritin and hair growth as well as hairloss?

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      mary 2 years ago

      When you discovered your ferritin was low ....was your hemoglobin also low?

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      Hi Everyone,

      I had open heart surgery March 28th, 2013.Two months later I started losing my hair like crazy!!! I talked to my heart Dr.and was to it was stress. After losing a lot more went to my Gp and had blood test for thyroid problems. The test came back normal. He started me on hormones (im 50 )and wanted to wait a month to see results. I wanted to SCREAM... will be Bald by then!!!!!!! Made a Appt with my Gyno, 2 week for that appt. another 2 weeks for blood test results ! All hormone levels normal. But finally, we might have found the problem. I have a ferritin level of 12 ! After all the pre surgery , post surgery blood tests,the Gp blood tests you thnk someone would have noticed...... Now on 6 Ferritin pills a day to bring up the numbers. Still losing hair

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Marla, for years I accepted my hair loss and got so upset seeing people with thick front hair, as mine just barely covered my scalp when tied back. I said it was only about 8 mts ago I noticed it growing. I searched the Internet to see if I was imagining it, what does new growth look like but couldn't find anything, so posted on here to say it does happen,. Sufficient iron to bring the levels up is the only thing I've changed . I can wash my hair and not hide in the bedroom to put my scalp cover on after I've dried it. I will say though before you get a growth spurt you get a small amount of shedding, not for long but for a few washes and its only about 50 hairs or so. But when you have got used to no shedding it can be disheartening. I love having a bit of a shed now as I know it's just a new cycle of growth. At the moment I have a whole new layer of hair growing in the front and sides that is about 3 or 4 inches , all the way round. Blows in the wind but I don't care, it's new hair!!!. I wake up and my hair has height to the front which it hasn't had in years. I still use a bit of cover up, safety blanket I suppose but I can go outside with wet hair know I don't look bald. I'm so glad I can share this and give you hope, as I lost mine being so long on iron and not a thing happening.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      wow!! you wrote about my life about my thinning hair! my hair had been falling out for 7 years now and I didn't know what was going on. now I'm having an iron infusion iv drip and all I can think about are the energy increase and my hair growing back. right now I'm using Joan rivers great hair day product - that covers my scalp very well but it makes me itch a bit and feel very dry and my hair has lost its luster and shine with the product because I must have it on. I'm excited to read your blog and so hopeful now. thank you for posting this.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: For Leenie ,may i ask you how high is your ferritin now and how long most you take iron pills ? My headaches also hes gone ! But my hair is still falling uit diffuse .Dit you hair is also falling diffuse ? Thanks al lot .

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I had low ferritin diagnosed about 2 yrs ago. My symptoms have all gone and my new hair only started to grow about eights months . If you can imagine a baby growing hair, it's like tufts and I'd say will take another year or 2 to get back to normal. I had severe hair loss and now my hair is growing. It does not grow in like you would think ie all at once but very gradually and like a baby it sprouts and then thickens up. Long old process but don't lose heart, it does happen. My dream was to go into a pool on holiday and get my hair wet without scalp cover dripping off or bald patches showing, I will be able to do that this year after 20 yrs of hairloss.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My ferritin level was 23. For the past three months, I Been taking iron supplement 65mg twice daily. No more headaches, and my hair stopped falling out.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi everyone, i have a question: well, I have ferritin at 40, i had this number since i had a baby 2 years ago and have been having a crazy loss of energy like as when i felt before they diagnosed anemia many years ago. I know i am preanemic because iron always makes me feel better- I am taking ferrous furmate and feel better energy , but the problem is that doctors do not believe in this country in prescribing iron unless you are duying or something , when you have a SEVERE anemia , but i begged my doctor(and i tried many doctors) to even prescribe furmate, i know i need my ferritin to be around 70 and an injection is the only way that will make this happen , how and where do i find a doctor that will do this? have you had similar experiences with doctors?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Boy am I glad I have internet :-) thanks for the post, it makes a lot of sense, I am having my first IIron on 6th Dec and hoping my long curly hair will be back to what it was. I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, IBS and THE also, so im pretty stressed with all the worries. But I hope theinfusion will work, this has been ongoing for almost 5 years now :'-( and have found a good understanding doctor finally. Please all you sufferers out there, do not fall for the ''oh its stress'' crap :-( we have a right to be tested and be treated for ieon probs, it is a condition and our GPs should do more research on it.

      Best Wishes

      Liz from Anglesey, North Wales (UK)

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      Kay 4 years ago

      I get the infusions as well. Only once did I have hair falling out and they told me it was stress because my husband was deployed. However I was struggling with my anemia then so I'm guessing it had more to do with my ferritin levels. Thanks! Hope you are doing well.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My hair falls out but not to a great extent. The symptom of low iron I wish I had known was constant ice chewing. When I went to see a hematologist my ferritin was below 1 and Hemoglobin 8. I just had my 5th IV iron infusion and will need 13 more. I no longer crave the ice but still can't walk far or fast without getting winded. Does anybody know how long it takes to feel normal?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, thanks for sharing your journey. I am in the process of getting my iron levels straightened out. i've tried the supplements and after 5 months my levels are up to a 35 (the Ferritin range is 10-232 mg/mL) I started out at a 16 and my Dr. has told me the numbers need to be on the high end. From what I've found on the internet you need a 70 to retain your hair, so my hair is getting thin to the point that creative styling is no longer working. My next step is a hematologist. My debacle started when my thyroid levels went wonky (I had 1/2 of my thyroid removed 25 yrs ago due to cancer, but never had more than my TSH levels checked.) My TSH level has been tested over the years butI was always exhausted and at times struggled with remembering information. When a full thyroid panel was finally checked they found the T3 was out of whack. You may want to think about having a full thyroid panel check of your thyroid done---typically the doctors will just do the TSH but as I've explained that doesn't show everything. I am fortunate there is a business that will do blood tests and send the results to doctors and/or just me. I don't need Dr.'s orders to have the blood work done. On occasion I will have my levels checked just to make sure things are OK then decide if the results should be forwarded, it saves me money. You might call around and find out if there's a business that offers this service. I wish you well.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thankyou your a god sent.I have the same problem but reading this has given me hope. im going in for another blood test tomorrow and hopefully my iron levels are up. I have been on vitamins for just over a month but still losing a lot of hair.Im assuming it is still low but Im so glad this can be solved. i know its going to be a long road ahead but reading this has made me feel more positive ,Thankyou Thankyou

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      II feel like dying every time I run my fingers through my hair and a lot of strands go with them. i started counting them to know if only a hundred fell. But it's so horrifying to see that not even an hour passed, I would be counting more than a 100 again. i don't know how many hundreds I lose in a day from combing them, from running my fingers through them or how many I lost in the shower :"( I don't know anymore what to do.

      I thought my problem started when I had the very bad perm where I lost clumps of my long hair. I nearly went bald from the incident. i spent thousand already buying hair therapy shampoo, vitamins and I even went to herbal doctors to get rid of all impurities in my system. But it is still happening (but not like those clumps I got after the perm) and I worry. yes, they said not to worry because it is due to stress. How can I not worry? Even if I don't run my fingers through them, i can feel the hair on my arms, my neck when they fall.

      As I am writing here, i can feel my head starts to ache again and soon when I run my fingers through them again, i will have falling strands on my hand. It is really scary. Please HELP ME!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      thank u so much i had an accident in july 29 and the for the last couple weeks i notice mr hair was falling down so i did not now why i thought because i was let my hair grow more that i used to but now i now the main reazon so i am going th the pharmacy today and i am gonna get myself an iron vitamins thanks you so much for the lanes was so helpful to me!!