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How is it that someone with normal iron levels and low hemoglobin?

My hemoglobin is 10.5 right now, which is considered anemic for women, but my doctor said my iron was in normal levels.  How does that work, exactly? Doesn't hemoglobin carry iron?

It started when I came in to a doctor's office complaining of what felt like a gallbladder attack.  Over the course of a few weeks that AND an h. pylori stomach ulcer was removed as a possible cause of this pain.

On April 25th or so my hemoglobin level was 13.1.
On May 18th my hemoglobin was 11.6
On June 1 my hemoglobin was 10.5.

BUT my iron levels remained normal.  How does all this work that way?  And why am I exhibiting signs of anemia (very tired, dizzy when standing, etc) when I have normal iron?

6 Replies (last)

I would call your doctor and ask. You should feel open and deserve the explanation behind yuor results but often docs won't give it without asking. Feel better

maybe the iron measurement is how much iron is floating around - on or off the hemoglobin

and you're anemic because you don't have enough hemoglobin to carry the iron where it needs to go

so now i'm wondering how you un-anemic yourself if the iron's there and your body just doesn't have enough workers to distribute it?

so dr just said "iron fine. hemo low. see ya next time"?

Hi, thanks for the replies.


They're monitoring my hemoglobin counts because it's decreasing and there's no logical reason why it's happening.  They don't think there's any digestive hemorraging because my stools are normal colored.

Their only two clues that there's a problem somewhere in the first place is because of the hemoglobin levels dropping and the pain I experience when I eat.

If there's any other input, I'd be more than glad to hear it.

Anemia is often confused with iron deficiency.

Here's what I found (I am NOT in the medical field so you should consult your doctor about this):

"Hemoglobin is not iron!  Unfortunately physicians prescribe iron to anemic people who test with low hemoglobin.  Yes, the patients are anemic, but the iron is collecting in storage instead of going into hemoglobin.  These people are iron-loaded.  They need iron removed despite the anemia.  The anemia should be treated with B vitamins, especially B12, B6 and folic acid.  Many patients with anemia are dying of iron overload, and some are hastened to their death by their physicians who give iron."

The last sentence is a little extreme, but the rest is interesting. Here's the source.

Hey, thanks.

I read this source either today or yesterday, I can't remember, and have since started taking a multivitamin that is low in iron.  The doctor's office said that there's no reason to take iron when (1) You don't need it, and (2) Iron in pill form makes you sick.  The doctor was right on #2 especially, because before this event I had tried to take a multivitamin, and the iron would make me nauseous to the point where I was actually throwing up.  He suggested that since I was likely deficient in B-vitamins (which supports the website!) that I should take prenatal vitamins, which increase all my B vitamins and my folic acid, and make my body "ready" for children when it so happens.


I've had menstrual anemia since puberty, so I regularly take a high-iron vitamin, so when I became anemic while on it I went through this same question. Turns out lots of things can cause anemia. Btw, mine was being caused by frequent use of ibuprofen, which can impact the bodies ability to clot and form platelets. Some other causes: (and I'm not a doctor, so a grain of salt may be called for)

B-12 and/or folate deficiency
B-12 absorption deficiency (can be caused by just about any chronic stomach upset)
A whole bucket-ful of chronic conditions from kidney problems to hypothyroidism
Stress, infection, hypertension, etc.

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