Iron infusions, what can I expect?
Aneamia is a condition caused by a lack of hemoglobin (red blood cells) in the blood.
Symptoms can vary in degree ranging from tiredness and slight dizzy spells to more serious cases which lead to chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, inflammation, and severe headaches.
Hemoglobin is made from iron which is ingested through red meat, seafood and leafy greens.
Healthy levels of iron for a female are 12 g/dl which varies for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding so it’s important that if you’re an expectant mother that you regularly have your iron levels checked with a simple blood test.
As women lose blood while menstruating, they are more susceptible than men of becoming anemic.
An iron deficiency is often treatable with simple dietary changes or with the addition of a daily supplement until the levels are back to a healthy range. In more severe cases though, an iron infusion might be recommended by your GP to give you a faster, more immediate impact.
What is an iron infusion?
An iron infusion is a straightforward procedure which takes approximately 30 minutes.
Iron is administered intravenously with a needle that is attached to a drip.
As the iron combined with a saline solution mixes with the blood, it works to restore your iron levels up to a healthy range much faster than supplements or dietary changes.
While each patient responds differently; symptoms of anemia normally start to dissipate within a few days and improve over time. Further blood tests will reveal if another iron infusion is necessary or if the deficiency is manageable with diet and supplements.
Risks and side effects.
The biggest risk with an iron infusion is that as it is administered directly to your blood stream, if an allergic reaction transpires this can often be severe.
This shouldn’t cause alarm because the risk of an allergic reaction is minimal and the healthcare professional administering the infusion will be fully trained on how to deal with any adverse reaction. An iron infusion will only be recommended if the benefits outweigh any risk.
Some immediate side effects of an iron infusion include the following:
- Cramps in the abdomen
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Dry mouth
- Hot flushes
- Muscle cramps.
Side effects are not serious and are simply the body’s response to extra iron in the blood stream.
While effects may be felt as quickly as 15 minutes into the infusion, they could take a couple of days to subside.
If you’re concerned that the side effects are potentially harmful, always consult with your GP who can examine you to identify any further health concerns.
Who shouldn’t have an iron infusion?
Always tell your GP if you fall into any of the following categories as this may affect their recommendation for an iron infusion:
- Suffer with eczema or breathing allergies
- Have suffered with liver problems.
- Are on any medication.
How much iron is needed?
Only the minimum amount of iron required to restore your levels to a safe level will be administered in your first iron infusion and your GP will recommend dietary changes or supplements from there.
If you’re suffering with the symptoms of anemia, see your GP to arrange a blood test which will show the levels of iron in your blood and whether or not an iron infusion is the best course of treatment.