• Dr Majella Soumakiyan

Iron Infusions

Updated: Jun 23

Iron deficiency anaemia is typically treated with dietary changes and iron supplements, but there are instances where doctors may call for iron infusions, where iron is intravenously delivered to the body.




Who Requires Iron Infusions?

There are several reasons why an individual may require an iron infusion. These include low supplies of iron in an individual’s blood, especially if they have experienced blood loss from ulcers, cancers, or heavy periods. Individuals with diets that consist of very low levels of iron and those who have conditions like kidney or heart disease may also require iron infusions.


In addition to this, an iron infusion may be required by those with iron deficiency anaemia or inflammatory bowel disease.


Besides those who cannot take oral iron supplements, iron infusions may be administered on individual who cannot adequately absorb iron through the gut, can’t absorb enough iron due to blood loss, or need to increase their iron levels quickly to avoid medical complications.


Symptoms of Iron Deficiency


Tiredness and lack of energy, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and pale skin are some of the symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia. Less common symptoms that require immediate medical attention include headaches, tinnitus, food tasting strange, itchy feeling, sore tongue, hair loss, pica, dysphagia, spoon-shaped nails, restless leg syndrome, and painful ulcers in the corner of the mouth.


Benefits


One of the key benefits to iron infusions is that they increase the body’s iron levels at a faster rate than supplements or dietary changes. This is especially beneficial to people experiencing iron deficiency during pregnancies. This is also important to those with severe anaemia. In addition to this, iron infusions can give you increased energy and make it easier to breathe.


Downside


While the benefits of iron infusions far outweigh the cons, they are avoided during the first trimester of a pregnancy and are only administered during the second and third trimesters. In addition to this, there is a small chance of the individual having an allergic reaction to the iron infusion, which can be life-threatening in rare cases. Iron toxicity is also a risk of iron infusions and they can cause anaphylactic shock.


A less severe downside to iron infusions is that some individuals experience mild side effects one to two days after the procedure. These side effects include headaches, a metallic taste in the mouth, and joint pain.


Some people also experience chest pain, dizziness, mouth swelling, or difficulty breathing and such individuals must seek medical attention immediately.


Alternatives

Due to the risks associated with iron infusions, doctors may consider alternatives. One of the first options a doctor will consider is iron supplements to be taken orally. This can be in a pill-form or in syrup-form.


Iron injects are also an alternative and involve injecting iron into a muscle, whereas iron infusions are delivered through an IV drip. This can take up to several hours, while an iron inject can be delivered immediately.


However, iron injects can be painful and can cause intramuscular bleeding and orange discoloration and due to these risks, doctors prefer iron infusions over iron injections. If your doctor has recommended an iron infusion, there are many places where you can have one administered to you.


It is, however, important that you go to a reputed place like the Raby Medical Centre. They are open on weekdays and you can make an appointment by calling them. If you have no prior experience with iron infusions, you can call them prior to making an appointment for information on the procedure as well as how you can prepare for it.


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