Iron Deficiency Diagnosis

How is iron deficiency detected?

Your doctor or healthcare provider will do blood tests to screen for iron deficiency. No single test is used to diagnose iron deficiency. The most common tests for screening are

  • Hemoglobin test (a test that measures hemoglobin which is a protein in the blood that carries oxygen)
  •  Hematocrit test (the percentage of red blood cells in your blood by volume) 
    These tests show how much iron is in your body. Hemoglobin and hematocrit levels usually aren't decreased until the later stages of iron deficiency, i.e., anemia.

Sometimes other blood tests are used to confirm that anemia is due to iron deficiency. These might include

  • Complete blood count (to look at the number and volume of the red blood cells)
  • Serum ferritin (a measure of a stored form of iron)
  • Serum iron (a measure of the iron in your blood)
  • Transferrin saturation (a measure of the transported form of iron)
  • Transferrin receptor (a measure of increased red blood cell production)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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