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"I have a high RBC ferritin 16, should I be worried?"

ZocdocAnswersI have a high RBC ferritin 16, should I be worried?


Doc started me on iron suppliments because of sudden hairloss, nail abnormalities and various other symptoms . I have concerns about taking it with elevated rbc. What are your thoughts.


An elevated red blood cell count is called polycythemia. It is also possible to have borderline elevations in the red blood cell count that do not represent polycythemia, and without knowing what your numbers were I can't comment specifically on what might be going on in your case. However, it is definitely something that you should talk with your regular primary care doctor or hematologist about. If you have an unambiguously elevated red blood cell count, then that is never normal and requires investigation for one of several conditions that cause this, including polycythemia vera, as well as chronic problems with the lungs or the heart. Your ferritin level is a bit on the low side, but this should always be interpreted in the context of a full panel of iron studies, so I would ask your doctor if they have performed these other tests (such as serum iron levels and total iron binding capacity). Interpreted together, all of these tests should give better clarity. Some of your symptoms, such as hair loss and nail changes, could certainly be caused by low iron levels. However, they could also be caused by one of the more serious medical conditions that leads to polycythemia, so you need to talk with your doctor to clarify this.

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