Iron is needed by cells in your body to function properly. Most importantly, it forms part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen around the body.
Iron is required for production of red blood cells, a healthy immune system, good mental health, muscle function and energy production.
Iron deficiency occurs when iron stores are used up and not replenished. If prolonged, it can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. It is far more common in developing countries than in developed countries.
It is more common in infants given cow’s milk instead of breast or iron fortified formula milk, young children, women with heavy periods, pregnant women, recent migrants, and people with dietary restrictions.
The causes of iron deficiency are:
- Insufficient intake – vegetarian, vegan or diets with inadequate iron.
- Impaired absorption – gastrointestinal conditions such as coeliac’s disease, gastric surgery
- Blood loss – most commonly from menstrual blood loss, frequent heavy nose bleeds, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract and blood donation.
Iron deficiency usually does not present with symptoms until anaemia develops. Some signs include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Decreased exercise tolerance
- Decreased ability to concentrate
Iron deficiency can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.
- Eating iron rich food
- Taking oral iron supplements
- Intravenous iron infusion
As iron can cause overload and toxicity if given to individuals who do not require supplementation, it is a requirement to see a doctor for a consultation first.
During the initial consultation, the doctor will go through the following:
- Check for symptoms of iron deficiency
- Organise for blood tests to confirm iron deficiency, if not already performed
- Explore potential causes for iron deficiency
- Discuss options for iron supplementation
- Check the patient’s eligibility for an iron infusion
- Discuss the risks and side effects of the procedure and the costs.
If the patient is eligible, the patient will be booked for an hour long appointment at the clinic. The full costs of the procedure will be collected at the time of booking and a medicare rebate provided on the day of the procedure. If the procedure is cancelled with less than 24hrs notice, there will be no refunds provided.
- The patient is to buy the iron product from the chemist and bring it to the appointment.
- Nursing staff will perform baseline checks
- The doctor will insert the IV drip
- The infusion will run over 15 to 20mins.
- Nursing staff will perform more checks during and after the infusion to monitor for side effects
- The patient will be kept for observation for a further 15-30mins after the infusion is completed.
- The patient is to book for follow up with the doctor.
We require a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before the appointment time to cancel or reschedule your appointment. If you choose to cancel and enough notice has been given you will be reimbursed the full fee
This is a procedure where a solution containing iron is administered to you via a cannula (tube) into your vein. The solution is typically given over 15-30 mins and the patient is observed for at least 30 mins afterwards. Observation period can sometimes be extended to a few hours in case of adverse reactions.
Iron infusions are a largely painless medical procedure. Patients may experience a brief pinching sensation as the needle is inserted into the vein.
Iron is essential for the body to make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is an iron-containing molecular that gives blood its red colour. The iron in haemoglobin carries the oxygen molecules around in your blood stream, to deliver oxygen to tissues where it is needed.
If your body develops low levels of iron, this is seen in your blood tests, often as a low ferritin level. Once the iron levels fall too low, the haemoglobin level falls below normal. This is known as ‘iron deficiency anaemia’.
Iron infusion is a treatment for patients with iron-deficiency anaemia who require rapid iron repletion but are unable to tolerate or fail to respond to oral iron preparations
An iron infusion is a way to increase the body’s iron levels quickly. It’s a more immediate treatment than supplements or dietary changes. This can be very helpful in situations where anaemia is severe.
The physical benefits of an iron infusion include increased energy and easier breathing. You should start feeling these benefits a few weeks after your final infusion treatment. How long these benefits last depends on the cause of your iron deficiency anaemia and whether or not you’re using any other therapies to increase your iron levels.
For example, regular blood loss, such as through menstruation, may lead to a chronic drop in iron levels. Depending on your situation, the benefits of an iron infusion may last anywhere from several months to a few years.
Your doctor may recommend additional iron-increasing therapies, such as supplementation and dietary changes which can prolong the benefits.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions for preparing for your first iron infusion treatment. Some of the basic things you can do to prepare on the day of your infusion include:
- eat your breakfast and lunch, as there is no need to fast for an iron infusion
- take your regular medications
- be prepared to have a small IV drip put in your arm or hand
- know how to call for help during your infusion in case you have an adverse reaction
You may feel nervous about your iron infusion. You can help reduce any anxieties by talking about the procedure with your doctor first. They can recommend ways to help you stay comfortable and relaxed during the procedure.
Some tips for comfort-
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
- Have drinking water available.
- Listen to music.
- Watch a film or TV show on a tablet or smartphone.
- Read a book or magazine
After the infusion, you can return to your normal activities straight away. Most people are able to drive themselves home. You can even go back to work after your infusion if you feel up to it.
You may have some side effects right after the procedure. Most of them are mild. These include:
- temporary changes in the way you taste food and drinks
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle and joint pain
- shortness of breath
- itchiness and rash
- increased or decreased blood pressure or heart rate
- burning sensation or swelling at the site of the injection
Severe side effects are rare; you will be closely monitored for any signs of these side effects by nursing staff.
The cost of your iron infusion itself is $215.00 with a Medicare rebate of $79.70, so your out of pocket cost is $135.30. You will also need to purchase the Iron medication from the pharmacy and bring it to your infusion appointment once the Doctor has made out a prescription for you. Depending on the Pharmacy, and your concession status, this may cost up to $40.
Gastroenterological Society of Australia http://www.gesa.org.au/resources/patients/iron-deficiency/