To differentiate iron deficiency anemia from other types of anemia, your doctor may take a sample of your blood to measure its concentration of ferritin. (Ferritin is the primary protein that allows your body to store iron in its cells.)1
Ferritin levels that are lower than normal typically indicate iron deficiency. The most common cause of elevated ferritin is inflammation, another possible cause of anemia.1
Ferritin levels are a good indicator of iron deficiency anemia and will help your doctor rule out other types of anemia associated with inflammation, liver or kidney disease, or certain blood diseases such as thalassemia minor (an inherited disease that's common in people from Mediterranean countries).1,2,3
1 Finch CA, Bellotti V, Stray S, et al. Plasma ferritin determination as a diagnostic tool. West J Med. 1986;145(5):657-663.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations to prevent and control iron deficiency in the United States. MMWR Recomm Rep. 1998;47(RR-3):1-36. http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/00051880.htm. Accessed April 9, 2008.
3 About thalassaemia. Thalassaemia International Federation Web site. http://www.thalassaemia.org.cy/about_thalassaemia.html. Accessed April 21, 2008.