Iron is an essential mineral and adequate levels are required for the normal production of haemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency can cause lethargy, fatigue and in more severe cases, anaemia which can cause a pale complexion, dizziness, shortness of breath and a reduced capacity for exercise. In pregnancy, iron deficiency can cause restricted foetal growth.
There are a three ways in which iron levels can be replenished; orally, intramuscularly, and intravenously.
Oral iron has the advantage of being simple and cost-effective, but is limited by side-effects, poor compliance, poor absorption, slow effect and low efficacy. Intramuscular iron is relatively slow and requires multiple injections (typically in the buttock) over a period of time and frequently causes pain and discomfort as well as permanent stains on the overlying skin. However, providing iron by infusion allows for rapid restoration of the body’s healthy iron levels with relatively few side effects.
Medication is proven, and can be administered in as little as 15 to 30 minutes, to a limit of 1,000mg per week. It can also be given during pregnancy, after the first trimester. Depending on your iron requirements, you may require two infusions to fully restore your iron levels.
In general, side effects from iron infusions are uncommon and most people will not experience any. When side effects do occur, they are typically transient and mild and may include nausea, dizziness, headaches, stomach upset, low phosphate levels & muscle or joint aches or pains. There may be some irritation at the cannula site for a number of days following the infusion. In very rare cases where the cannula becomes dislodged during an infusion, the skin around the injection site may become permanently discoloured (however, risk is less than 1%).
Prior to receiving an iron infusion with us, you must see a doctor to obtain a prescription for the iron preparation (Ferinject) and to consider whether further investigation of your iron deficiency is required (unless you have already done this) and then you could proceed with iron infusion on the same appointment.