Our bodies need iron which is used to make haemoglobin; the part of our red blood cells that carries oxygen around our bodies. It is also important for muscle strength, energy and mental function. If your iron levels are low, this may cause you to feel tired and not able to perform normal daily activities. As the amount of iron in the body further declines, the haemoglobin drops below normal levels. This is called iron deficiency anaemia.
The most common way to treat iron deficiency is to take iron orally as a tablet or liquid. This is usually trialed as an initial measure and works well for most people. Some people may need iron to be given straight into the body through a vein. This is called an intravenous (IV) iron infusion. The iron is given through a needle and dripped or “infused” into the vein. Sometimes two iron infusions (administered at least one week apart) are required to fully replenish iron stores. The infusion is made up of iron, not blood.
Your doctor should explain why you require IV iron and discuss other options.
Generally, when side effects occur, they are mild and settle down on their own. The most common side effects are temporary and include:
Skin staining (brown discolouration) may occur due to leakage of iron into the tissue around the needle (drip) site. This is not common but the stain can be long lasting or permanent. Please inform the doctor or nurse straight away if you experience any discomfort, burning, redness or swelling at the needle (drip) site. Although very uncommon, some patients may have a severe allergic reaction. In rare cases, this can be life threatening.
Below contains useful information that answers some common questions about IV iron infusions. It does not contain all available information and does not negate the requirement to consult your doctor about your particular case.
Please tell your doctor if:
Sometimes side effects can occur one to two days later, including headache, mild fever, joint and muscle aches. They will mostly settle on their own or over the subsequent days following. They are more common with the “total dose” infusions of iron polymaltose. If they interfere with your day-to-day life or if you have any concerns, please contact Eastern Gastrointestinal Specialists.