Iron Infusions

Iron is essential for the body to make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is an iron-containing molecule that gives blood its red colour and the iron in haemoglobin carries oxygen molecules around in your blood stream, to deliver oxygen to cells and tissues where it is needed. If your body develops low levels of iron then this can be seen in your blood test results, often as a low ferritin level. Once the iron levels fall too low below normal you will have a condition known as ‘iron deficiency’. If you have iron deficiency you may become anaemic (have a low haemoglobin). When you are anaemic, less oxygen is carried around in your blood and you may feel symptoms such as:
• tiredness;
• fatigue;
• shortness of breath on exertion.

Factors that can lower your body’s supply of iron include poor dietary intake of foods which contain iron, pregnancy, blood loss (such as heavy periods, or blood loss through your urine or stools) , issues with absorbing iron and conditions that can destroy too many red blood cells.

At FLOREAT MEDICAL our Doctors will investigate the cause of iron deficiency and treat that cause where possible. The first step to supplementing iron may be through dietary advice and suggesting iron tablets (supplements). It take about 3 months to replenish iron stores (ferritin) with oral supplementation. At that time, a repeat blood test will be done to measure iron levels in your blood after oral supplementation. For most people blood counts return to normal after 2 months of oral iron therapy.

Iron infusion or intravenous iron is indicated when both the ferritin level and the haemoglobin are low and there is an:

  • Inability to tolerate iron taken by mouth (due to allergy, or gastric upset, diarrhoea or constipation);
  • Inability to absorb iron through the gut;
  • Inability to absorb enough iron due to the amount of blood that the body is losing;
  • Or if you are in need of a rapid increase in iron levels to avoid complications, about to undergo surgery or a blood transfusion.

There is a small chance of having an allergic reaction to IV iron which, in rare cases, can be life threatening. It is important to tell your doctor if you have any medication allergies.

Also 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 or infusion in the past;
  • have a history of high iron levels, haemachromatosis or liver problems; or
  • are on any medications (including over the counter or herbal supplements).

To have an iron infusion procedure at FLOREAT MEDICAL you must have a consultation with your doctor to discuss your symptoms, to be referred for blood tests and to make a plan for future treatment. Once the blood test results are available, and based on your clinical condition, if the doctor determines that an iron infusion is necessary, this will be discussed with you. An iron infusion procedure will then be booked with your doctor and the nurse on a date in the future. The doctor will provide you with a prescription for the iron infusion vials, which you will pay for and pick up from a pharmacy and bring with you for your iron infusion appointment.

At your appointment, you will be asked to sign a written consent form which sets out the purpose of the procedure and the possible risks. There will be a fee for the doctor’s consultation and a fee for the nurse’s time for the infusion in the procedure room. You will be advised not to rub the infusion site or engage in any exercise or exertion for 24 hours to minimise adverse side effects.

Side effects experienced following an iron infusion may include:
• metallic taste in the mouth;
• headache;
• nausea or vomiting;
• muscle and joint pain;
• shortness of breath;
• itchiness, rash;
• changes to blood pressure or pulse;
• irritation, staining or swelling at injection site.

Picture left: Staining is a risk to discuss with your GP
Severe side effects are rare; you will be closely monitored for any signs of these side effects by nursing staff.

Your doctor will often do another blood test about 6 weeks after your iron infusion to review how you are and whether and when you should start taking iron tablet supplements again to maintain your iron stores.

If you have any queries about iron infusions please contact Floreat Medical on 9387 6000 and our nurses will be happy to take your call, or book an appointment to discuss your concerns with your doctor.