There are tons of different kinds of anemia, and different causes of it. In a general sense, anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells are essential for getting oxygen to the rest of our body tissues. Without this oxygen, we can get dizzy or even experience chest pain. Anemia and inflammation can cause low energy, so check out these tests that look for it.
Anemia or Hemochromatosis Levels: These tests look for abnormal blood cell amounts that are associated with fatigue. If anemia is causing your fatigue, you’ll need more tests to pinpoint the source of your anemia.
HGB Level: Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to body tissues. All of our tissues need oxygen—it’s an essential energy source.
Ferritin: Ferritin is a protein that stores iron in the blood. The ferritin level is a sensitive indicator of the body’s iron stores. Serum ferritin levels are very helpful in evaluating blood disorders like iron-deficiency anemia. In this variety of anemia, hemoglobin’s low because there’s not enough iron in the body. This is usually the case because of a very gradual blood loss from the stomach (ulcers), colon (polyps) or menstrual period. Hemochromatosis is the condition when the ferritin level is elevated and the iron stores are quite high. Too much iron can then build up and hurt vital organs like the pancreas and liver. This condition is uncommon, affecting one in 600 people.
Inflammation: These tests detect high levels of inflammation in your body. What causes inflammation may cause fatigue. Your doctor can follow up with more specific tests (like those for rheumatoid factors or lupus, or less common diseases, if these screening tests indicate that your fatigue is not a result of anemia).
- C-Reactive Protein (CRP): The liver produces this protein, and its levels rise dramatically with infection or inflammation. This can be measured to check for rheumatoid arthritis or to measure a patient’s response to treatment. CRP has also been established as a predictor of cardiovascular risk. CRP levels between 3 and 10 ug/mL suggest the inflammatory process caused by the formation of plaque within arteries, or atherosclerosis. Most doctors treat these elevations with a statin drug. Levels greater than 10 ug/mL suggest other kinds of inflammation, which can occur with infection or conditions such as arthritis.
- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate: This is another means of measuring body inflammation.
- IL-6, IL-8, and/or TNF ALPHA: These are special chemicals or biomarkers in the blood, which a group of inflammatory cells releases. This tells the other cells that there’s an inflammation site in the body, and more help (inflammatory cells) is needed to respond to the problem.
- Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF): This very interesting biomarker is often associated with inflammation. It can be elevated by nasal polyps or healing wounds, because it stimulates the growth of tiny blood vessels.