Iron Infusion Factsheet
This factsheet answers common questions about iron infusions but is not a substitute for discussing your specific case with your healthcare provider.
Why does my body need iron?
Iron is essential for producing haemoglobin, an essential component of red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the body. It also assists in oxygen storage within muscles. Low iron levels can result in fatigue, hair loss, low mood and an inability to perform daily tasks. When iron levels drop too much, haemoglobin levels decrease, leading to ‘iron deficiency anaemia’ (IDA). Inadequate iron hinders the production of healthy red blood cells capable of carrying oxygen effectively.
Why do I need to have iron by an infusion?
The most common method to treat IDA is by using an oral iron supplement, typically in tablet or liquid form. This approach is generally effective for most individuals and is typically the initial choice. However, some IDA patients may not see their iron levels return to normal with iron supplements. This can occur due to side effects causing discomfort (e.g. stomach upsets, constipation), non-compliance with the prescribed regimen, or inadequate absorption of the supplement in the gut. Iron infusions are recommended for IDA when oral iron is not well-tolerated, effective, or not providing a rapid response. Before your doctor prescribes an iron infusion, they will assess whether the benefits of the infusion outweigh the potential side effects in your specific case.
How is the iron infusion given?
‘Intravenous’, ‘infusion’ or ‘IV’ all mean giving something directly into the bloodstream of the body through a vein. When you are given an infusion, a needle is placed into a vein (usually in the back of your hand or arm) and attached to a drip that delivers the iron containing medicine mixed with saline (a sterile saltwater solution). This fluid is slowly dripped (infused) into the vein and mixes with the blood in your body.
What type of IV iron do you use and why?
We use Ferrinject® – the dosage can be up to 1000mg per infusion. Typically only one infusion is required to get your iron levels to a normal level. There are other forms of IV iron such as Monofer® or Iron Carboxymaltose which need to be given as multiple treatments. These are less effective, less safe and cheaper formulations – we do not offer them.
How long does the iron infusion take and how often is it given?
Typically an infusion takes 45 minutes though be prepared to be in the clinic for at least 1 hour because after the infusion you will need to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes to make sure you don’t have a reaction to it.
Are there any side effects from the iron infusion?
Side-effects and severe reactions are very rare. However, you should be aware of what they are. The most common side-effects are:
- feeling sick (nausea)
- reactions where the needle is inserted (site of the infusion).
Muscle spasms or muscle pain can happen but are uncommon. Very rarely some patients have an allergic reaction to the infusion called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is rare but serious. The doctor who will administer your infusion has the highest level of qualification available to treat this very rare side effect.
You should tell your clinician if you have had an allergic reaction to iron infusions in the past. Medicines (called pre-medications) are usually prescribed for patients who have had a previous reaction to iron or any infusion to stop the reaction from happening again.
There is also a very small risk of permanent skin staining at the site of the infusion. Skin staining occurs when the infusion leaks into the surrounding soft tissues. Your cannula will be inserted by an Anaesthetic Consultant who is an expert at IV access and it will not be started unless they are happy with the cannula.
The risks outlined in this section are lowered by close observation during the infusion; your pulse and blood pressure are monitored at the beginning and if there are any concerns further observations can be conducted throughout the infusion. Your doctor will stop or slow the infusion if there are any concerns that you may be having a reaction to the infusion.
The infusions are administered by an Anaesthetic Consultant with access to full resuscitation facilities including Oxygen.
Are iron infusions safe in pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your iron levels need to be high enough to ensure that your baby also gets the oxygen they need to grow properly. Some women have low levels of iron during their pregnancy which leads to IDA; this can be treated with oral iron supplements or an iron infusion. You should try oral iron supplements and avoid iron infusion in the first trimester of pregnancy where possible. Iron infusions are considered safe to use in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Speak with your doctor or midwife about which one is best for you.
What do I need to do on the day of the iron infusion?
There is no particular preparation needed for an iron infusion.
- You do not need to fast, so have your usual breakfast or lunch.
- Take all of your regular medicines.
- Drink plenty of fluids; this makes it easier to find a vein for the drip/infusion.
- You will be able to drive home after the iron infusion. If you experience any side effects during the iron infusion or after it is completed, inform your nurse or midwife immediately.
Is there anything I need to do after the iron infusion?
It’s always important to monitor your own health after an iron infusion. If you experience any significant symptoms (for example, chest pain or difficulty breathing) contact your doctor as soon as possible or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Your doctor will advise you when/if to start taking your iron tablets again, usually ONE week after the infusion. You will need to have blood tests two to four weeks after the infusion to make sure it has worked.
Before you leave our clinic, make sure that:
- You have a contact number if you have any worries or questions.
- You have the dates or request forms for any follow-up tests or appointments.
What are your prices?
An iron infusion is £895 in the clinic at 11 Greek Street, London, W1D 4DJ. Outcall infusions within London are £1495.
If this fact sheet does not answer your questions or you are still unclear about what you should do, please email email@example.com