Iron Infusion

What is Iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is an important cause of anaemia. Anaemia can lead to symptoms like excessive tiredness, shortness of breath and palpitations If you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency it is important to find out the underlying reason for the deficiency.

The most common causes for iron deficiency would include:

1) Occult GI losses
The are multiple reasons for loosing blood and iron in GI tract. At times the bleeding is so slow that it cannot be visualised with the naked eye, but over weeks and months can lead on to iron deficiency.

a) Bleeding ulcers
b) GI malignancies
c) Angiodysplasia or leaky blood vessels

2) Malabsorption of iron
This can result from multiple reasons as well including coeliac disease or wheat allergy

3) Decreased dietary iron
This is not a common cause in Australia
Contrary to popular belief eating less red meat does not cause iron deficiency as a lot of vegetarian foods are a good source of iron

4) Menstrual losses
5) Microscopic blood loss in urine

Iron can be replaced orally and is the preferred mode of replacement for young kids and teenagers. For many years IV or intravenous iron was reserved for severe cases of iron deficiency anemia because the IV iron products available could cause allergic/anaphylactic reactions. However, newer formulations are safer and far less likely to have these reactions.

The preparation of iron used at Waverley Endoscopy practices is Iron Carboxymaltose also known as Ferinject. This preparation is one of the newest and safest iron infusion and this can be given over a period of around half an hour. Even people with a history of allergic reactions to previous formulations of iron can be given Ferinject very safely.

Patients receiving iron infusions can rarely experience side effects including:

1) Temporary changes in taste (eg metallic)
2) Headache, feeling sick or vomiting
3) Muscle and joint pain
4) Shortness of breath
5) Itchiness, rash
6) Changes to blood pressure or pulse
7) Burning and swelling at injection site
8) Severe side effects are rare

You will be closely monitored for any signs of these side effects by nursing staff. Some side effects can happen one to two days after the infusion. Most of these settle down on their own within a couple of days.

If you have chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or neck/mouth swelling SEEK URGENT MEDICAL ATTENTION / CALL AN AMBULANCE.

Before the iron infusion

1) Have your breakfast/lunch. You do not need to fast for an iron infusion.
2) Take all your regular medications
3) You can drive home after the infusion and resume usual activities (unless there is an unexpected reaction)
4) The iron will be given through a small IV drip which will be put in your arm
5) If you experience any side effects, inform your nurse immediately

After the iron infusion

Most of the people will notice an improvement in tiredness and other symptoms after 7- 10 days after an iron infusion. There is normally no need to continue iron tablets after the infusion. Your doctor will normally check your iron levels along with full blood count in 3-4 months after an infusion to monitor the iron levels.
It is important to consider a gastroscopy and colonoscopy to look for the underlying cause of iron deficiency if not already done. Some patients need a capsule endoscopy which is a completely Medicare rebated test to investigate iron deficiency further.

Important Information

If you experience any side effects, inform your nurse immediately.
If you have chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness or neck/mouth swelling SEEK URGENT MEDICAL ATTENTION / CALL AN AMBULANCE.

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