Medical Q&As

Ferritin - high level?

Following a blood test, I was diagnosed with a very high ferritin reading and was then gene tested which suggested I did not have haemochromatosis. I was then told my liver must be inflamed and I was ordered off alcohol for 6 months (even though I am a moderate social drinker). I asked my GP to test me after 3 months and he told me the reading had dropped but not significantly. I am due to see the specialist in 4 weeks. If the reading is still high and I donít apparently have haemochromatosis, what other possible conclusions are there?

Ferritin is a measure of the total store of iron in the body. A high ferritin level raises the possibility of haemochromatosis but since you have been specifically tested for that condition other possible causes for your abnormal result need to be considered. Ferritin can be raised if the liver is inflamed such as would happen with viral hepatitis. Excessive alcohol consumption can also affect ferritin levels. I note your comment about your level of alcohol consumption but sometimes the liver can be very sensitive to what appears to be a very low level of exposure to alcohol. Sometimes bacterial infections can affect ferritin as can connective tissue disorders. Thyrotoxicosis or over activity of the thyroid gland can also increase ferritin levels. In some cases no cause is found for the rise in ferritin and in that scenario it is generally recommended that the level be monitored annually.