Our bodies need iron. Iron is used to make Haemaglobin – the part of our red blood cells that carries oxygen around our body. It is important for muscle strength, energy and good mental function.
The risks of not treating iron deficiency are:
• Anaemia may develop, eventually requiring a blood transfusion.
• Iron deficiency is linked with a variety of symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, palpitations and shortness of breath with exercise, restless legs syndrome and hair loss.
How Is Iron Deficiency Treated?
The most common way to treat iron deficiency is to take iron as a tablet or liquid. This works well for most people and is safe, easily accessible and cheap. Iron supplements usually need to be taken for 3 to 6 months. The trouble is they often give side effects.
Side effects of oral iron supplements include:
• Metallic taste
• Black bowel motions
Why Might I Need IV Iron?
Some people may need iron to be given straight into the body through a vein. This is called an intravenous (IV) Iron Infusion. The infusion is made up of iron, not blood and is given over 15 minutes.
IV iron might be needed if you:
• Are not able to take iron tablets/liquid
• Are not responding to iron tablets/liquid or not absorbing them
• Need to get your iron levels up quickly (e.g. before surgery, to prevent blood transfusion, iron levels are very low).
• If you have chronic kidney disease or chronic heart failure.
What Are Some Iron Infusion Benefits Compared To Oral Iron?
• Rapid return to normal iron levels
- Avoids the gastrointestinal side effects of oral iron supplements
Are There Any Side Effects With IV Iron?
Generally when side effects occur, they are mild and settle down on their own. The most common risks of iron infusion include:
• Headache, feeling sick or vomiting, muscle or joint pain
• Changes in taste (e.g. metallic)
• Changes to blood pressure or pulse
• Mild fever
Skin staining (brown discolouration) may occur due to leakage of iron into the tissues around the needle site. This is not common but the stain can ben long lasting or permanent.
Anaphylaxis is a rare but serious allergic reaction, which can be life threatening. The risk of anaphylaxis with the Iron injection is around 1 in 1000. You will be closely monitored while IV iron is given, and for 30 minutes after.
Who Cannot Have An Iron Infusion At Our Clinic?
• If you are pregnant/trying to get pregnant (IV iron should be avoided in the 1st trimester)
• Have had a reaction to any type of iron injection or infusion in the past
• Have a history of high levels of iron, haemachromatosis or liver problems
• Have an infection, inflammation, fever.
• 18 years or under
• If you have chronic kidney disease/renal failure
I Think An Infusion Is The Practical Solution For Me
• See the doctor for an initial assessment of the cause of the deficiency
• The doctor will discuss treatment options and explain the iron infusion protocol and what to expect after iron infusion
• If suitable you will be given a script for the iron
• The doctor and nurse will administer the injection and monitor you throughout
• You need to stay in the clinic for 30 minutes after the infusion
• Go to pathology 6 weeks later to check your iron levels.
Do I need to bring anything to my appointment?
• Please bring any previous pathology results you may have
• If you have a referral letter bring it, but you don’t need one
• You don’t need to fast
• Unless you have an unexpected reaction, you will be able to drive home and do your normal activities.
Please call our friendly reception team to arrange an appointment with one of our doctors and discuss the cost of iron infusion.