Do you suffer from low iron?
If you’re anaemic or have trouble tolerating iron supplements, you could benefit from an iron infusion. An iron infusion delivers iron directly into the bloodstream through a vein. Iron is an essential mineral assisting the body to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, amongst other important functions. There are risks and benefits to having an iron infusion, and your doctor can explain these to you at a consultation.
What is Iron and why do we need it?
Iron is essential for the body to make haemoglobin (Hb), a pigment that makes red blood cells red. When the amount of iron in the body gets too low, the haemoglobin levels fall below normal. This is known as iron deficiency anaemia.
Haemoglobin is very important as it carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If your haemoglobin or iron levels are low this may make you feel tired and not able to carry out your everyday activities.
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency and who is at risk?
Iron deficiency symptoms include:
- Low energy
- Feeling cold
- Infections due to low immunity
People who are at the highest risk of iron deficiency include females due to monthly periods and childbirth, people with kidney failure, those who are taking blood-thinning medication and those who have trouble absorbing iron due to biological factors.
Iron deficiency treatments:
There are three main recommendations to counter iron deficiency:
- Improving diet through eating foods high in iron (red meat, eggs, tuna, seafood, peanut butter, iron-fortified foods)
- Iron supplements – usually in the form of tablets or drinks
- Intravenous (IV) Iron infusions
Choice of treatment comes down to the individual. Unfortunately some people simply cannot absorb enough iron from their food no matter what they eat. Further, some people are unable to tolerate iron supplements as they can cause stomach issues. Others may require a rapid increase in iron levels to avoid other health complications or due to a blood transfusion. An iron infusion is often the best choice in these circumstances.
What is an iron infusion?
At the beginning of an iron infusion, a needle is placed into a vein. Next, the needle is attached to a drip containing iron mixed with saline. This fluid is slowly dripped into the vein and mixes with the blood in the body.
The iron infusion replenishes iron stores, allowing the normal production of haemaglobin. The process takes approximately 1 hour.
Most patients notice symptoms (tiredness, dizziness and so on) improve within a few days with the full effect being more evident after a couple of weeks.
Risks and benefits of IV iron
There are risks, benefits and alternatives to IV iron. The most significant risk when receiving intravenous iron is a very small chance of an allergic reaction which, in rare cases can be life threatening. IV iron is prescribed when the benefits outweigh the risks.
Before you have IV iron
Tell your doctor if you are:
- Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
- Have a history of asthma, eczema or other allergies
- Have had a reaction to any type of iron injection in the past
- Have a history of high iron levels, hemochromatosis or liver problems
- Are on any medications – including over the counter or herbal supplements
We only perform iron infusions when medically indicated. We do not do perform iron infusions on athletes for the purpose of performance enhancement.
How much iron is needed?
When all of the iron needed by the body is given in a single infusion (1 treatment) this is called a ‘total dose’ infusion. This delivers the right amount of iron to make enough new red blood cells to Hb levels to normal and have some stored in reserve for the future.
In other cases just giving smaller amounts of IV iron can help increase Hb levels enough to improve symptoms and help avoid a blood transfusion. The rest of the iron can then be given back to the body slowly over the coming months with iron tablets.
How do I book an iron infusion?
All patients must book a counselling session with an Iron Infusion Doctor before having the procedure.
Current Iron Infusion Doctors:
- Dr Colinette Margerison (Robina)
- Dr Annelies Geissler (Easy T)
- Dr Nicole Langsford (Robina)
- Dr Jessica Hamlyn (Robina)
- Dr Brian Cheong (Robina)
If you think you’d benefit from an iron infusion, please book an appointment with one of our Iron Infusion Doctors. We look forward to helping you achieve better health.