March 21, 2023
The Ultimate Guide to Iron Infusions: What to Expect Before, During, and After Treatment
Iron is an essential mineral that is necessary for many bodily functions. It helps to transport oxygen throughout the body, supports the immune system, and helps to produce energy. When a person’s iron levels become too low, they may need an iron infusion to restore their levels to normal.
Iron infusions are a common treatment for people with iron-deficiency anemia. This condition occurs when a person’s body does not have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron-deficiency anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.
If you have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend an iron infusion to help raise your iron levels. This article will discuss what to expect before, during, and after an iron infusion.
Before the Infusion
Before your iron infusion, your doctor will likely order blood tests to determine your iron levels and to check for any underlying conditions that may be causing your anemia. Your doctor may also ask you about any medications or supplements you are taking, as some may interfere with iron absorption.
In addition to blood tests, your doctor may perform a physical exam to check for signs of anemia, such as pale skin or a rapid heartbeat. If your doctor determines that an iron infusion is necessary, they will explain the procedure and answer any questions.
You may also be asked to fast for a certain period before the infusion, as some foods and drinks can interfere with iron absorption. Your doctor will provide specific instructions on what to eat and drink before the procedure.
During the Iron Infusion
On the day of your iron infusion, when you arrive at the clinic, you will be given a gown to change into and will be seated in a comfortable chair or bed for the duration of the infusion.
The infusion is administered through an IV (intravenous) line in your arm. The process typically takes between 30 minutes and several hours, depending on the type of iron used and the severity of your anemia.
Although most patient tolerate the treatment without any side effects, some notice the following:
- Metalic taste
- Low or high blood pressure
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
If you experience any of these side effects, let your practitioner know immediately. They may be able to adjust the infusion rate or provide medication to alleviate your symptoms.
After the Iron Infusion
After the infusion is complete, you will be asked to stay at the clinic for a period of time to ensure that you do not experience any adverse reactions. Your practitioner will monitor your vital signs and may perform additional blood tests to check your iron levels.
You may also receive instructions on what to do after the infusion, such as:
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Resting for the remainder of the day
- Avoiding strenuous activity for some time
- Continuing to take iron supplements or medications as prescribed
- Following up with your doctor for additional blood tests and monitoring
It is important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure that the infusion is effective and to minimize the risk of complications.
Types of Iron Infusion
There are several types of iron infusions, each with its own benefits and potential side effects. Your practitioner will determine which type of iron infusion is best for your needs.
Iron dextran is a type of iron infusion that has been used for many years to treat iron-deficiency anemia. The downside is this infusion typically takes several hours to complete.
While iron dextran is effective at raising iron levels, it can also cause severe allergic reactions in some people. For this reason, iron dextran is usually reserved for people who cannot tolerate other forms of iron.
Iron sucrose is a newer iron infusion type often used as a first-line treatment for iron-deficiency anemia. This infusion typically takes between 30 minutes and two hours to complete.
Iron sucrose is usually very well-tolerated, with few side effects. However, it may not be as effective at raising iron levels as other forms of iron.
Ferric carboxymaltose is another type of iron infusion that is becoming more widely used. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to complete.
Ferric carboxymaltose has effectively raised iron levels in people with iron-deficiency anemia. However, it may cause more severe side effects, such as hypotension (low blood pressure) and anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction).
Iron isomaltoside is a newer type of iron infusion that is also becoming more widely used. This infusion typically takes between 15 minutes and two hours.
Iron isomaltoside has also effectively helped people with iron-deficiency anemia. But it can cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
Choosing the Right Type of Iron infusion
Your practitioner will consider several factors when choosing the right type of iron infusion for you, including:
- The severity of your anemia
- Your overall health and medical history
- Any medications or supplements you are taking
- Your personal preferences and tolerance for different types of iron
It is essential to discuss your options with your practitioner and to ask any questions you may have about the different types of iron infusions. Your practitioner can provide you with more detailed information about the risks and benefits of each type of infusion and can help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.
Potential Risks and Complications
While iron infusions are generally safe and well-tolerated, they carry risks and potential complications. These may include:
- Allergic reactions: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to the iron infusion. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, let your practitioner know immediately.
- Hypotension: Some iron infusions, such as ferric carboxymaltose, may cause hypotension (low blood pressure). Your practitioner will monitor your blood pressure during the infusion and may adjust the infusion rate if necessary.
- Iron overload: In rare cases, iron infusions may lead to iron overload, a condition in which the body stores too much iron. This can cause damage to organs such as the liver and heart. Your practitioner will monitor your levels carefully to minimize the risk of iron overload.
If you experience any side effects or complications during or after your iron infusion, it is vital to inform your doctor or nurse immediately. They can provide prompt treatment and help to minimize any potential risks.
The Bottom Line
Iron infusions are a safe and effective treatment for people with iron-deficiency anemia. They can significantly improve energy levels and quality of life. If you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue, weakness, or shortness of breath, talk to your doctor about whether an iron infusion may be right for you.
Remember that an iron infusion is just one part of your treatment plan for iron-deficiency anemia. You may also need to make lifestyle changes, such as increasing your intake of iron-rich foods and reducing your consumption of foods that can inhibit iron absorption.
By working closely with your doctor and following their recommendations, you can improve your iron levels and regain energy and vitality.
CORR provides Iron Sucrose Infusions to help you quickly increase your iron level. These iron infusion treatments can greatly benefit women who experience heavy periods, antacid users, and those who struggle with malabsorption. If you’re interested in learning more about our clinic and treatments or are ready to get started with iron infusions, contact our team today.