(Also posted accidentally in the General Health forum-oops!)
I am a 39 year old pre-menopausal woman. My recent labwork has shown that I have Hbg level of 12.5, Serum Iron of 49, % saturation is 13%, and my Serum Ferritin is 9 ng/mL. I have a childhood health history of Iron Deficiency Anemia. As an adult I have experienced years of non-specific symptoms that could be associated with Iron Deficiency, such as fatigue, tingling/numbness in my legs and feet, easy bruising, depression, and sleep disturbances. Within the last few months I have experienced the above symptoms with the addition of hair loss and shortness of breath*.
Some years ago I found out I have Hemoglobin E trait, which I know is almost always asymptomatic. My MCV as an adult has stayed in the range of 72-76 and my MCH is usually around 23-24. My Hgb is usually on the lower end of the normal range (this 12.5 is the highest it has been in years). ANOTHER confounding factor is that I am a long-time vegetarian (not vegan), although I wasn't as a child, when I was most often actually anemic. I know that insufficient dietary iron intake is one of the main causes of IDA/iron deficiency. Since my most recent labwork I have decided to start eating meat again and have started oral iron supplementation. As an aside, my brother (37 years old) is also a Hemoglobin E carrier and has had symptomatic Iron Deficiency Anemia for most of his life. I know IDA is not as common in healthy males. Neither of us have any underlying conditions.
My main questions are:
1.) Can having a genetic predisposition to microcytic, hypochromic RBCs make one more susceptible to iron deficiency (latent or anemia)?
2.) Is it possible to have a latent iron deficiency that lasts for many years without progressing to anemia?
3.) Is it possible to for a Hemoglobin E carrier to be symptomatic?
*Regarding my symptoms I have had both my TSH and Vitamin D levels tested and both are in the normal range. I will be having hormone panels run soon.
Thanks for your insight!