Iron Infusions: Everything You Need to Know

Iron-deficiency anemia is a common condition that can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other health problems. If you are suffering from iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend an iron infusion as treatment. An iron infusion is a procedure in which iron is administered directly into your bloodstream. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about iron infusions including what they are, how they work, and how to prepare for them.

Share This Post

Iron-deficiency anemia is a common condition that can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other health problems.

If you are suffering from iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend an iron infusion as treatment. An iron infusion is a procedure in which iron is administered directly into your bloodstream.

In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about iron infusions including what they are, how they work, and how to prepare for them.

What is iron-deficiency anemia?

Iron-deficiency anemia, or IDA, is a condition that develops when your body is iron deficient.

When you have anemia, you have a lower number of red blood cells or hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.

Iron is a crucial mineral that helps your red blood cells and hemoglobin carry the oxygen and without enough iron, you may feel tired and weak.

Iron-deficiency anemia is normally caused by blood loss, diet, or your body's inability to process iron from food.

Blood loss does not have to occur only from injury or surgery as there can be ongoing blood loss which can include the following:

  • Heavyperiods
  • Childbirth
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Colon cancer
  • Urinary tract bleeding
  • Chronic kidney disease

The symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia can vary from person to person and may take time to develop which allows your body to adjust to it. If you are showing symptoms, they may include the following:

  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale skin
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Increased thirst
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain also called angina
  • Infections

These are some of the most common symptoms; however, there are others. If you suffer from any of the conditions above and your symptoms match those of iron-deficiency anemia please talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.

What is an iron infusion?

An iron infusion is a treatment for iron deficiency where iron is administered to you intravenously, or through your veins.

Iron infusions are used to treat iron-deficiency anemia and can help replenish your iron levels back to normal.

Usually, if you have an iron deficiency your doctor will prescribe oral iron supplements such as iron tablets or pills.

There may be various reasons you can not take the medication by mouth and your doctor can use an iron infusion instead.

iron infusion

What is the difference between an iron infusion and an iron injection?

An iron infusion is a slow drip of iron over a period of time, usually a few hours or more.

An iron injection is a shot of iron that is given to a muscle, typically your buttocks, and is over in a matter of seconds.

The difference between the two is that with an iron injection, there is a possibility of intramuscular bleeding, orange discoloration, and it tends to be more painful.

What are the benefits of an iron infusion?

There are many benefits to receiving an iron infusion, the most important is that it delivers iron into your body very quickly if you have severe anemia and helps alleviate its symptoms. Other benefits include:

  • Helping you feel more energetic and less tired
  • Easier breathing

It may take a few infusions to feel some benefits and they may not be felt for several weeks.

How long iron infusions last depends on how regularly you lose blood.

For example, if you have a heavy period regularly, you may need iron infusions every few months whereas someone else without regular blood loss may feel the benefits for a couple of years.

How do I prepare for an iron infusion?

Typically, no special preparation is needed for an iron infusion. Take any other medications as prescribed and eat a normal diet before going to the infusion.

However, if you are taking any iron supplements or have a history of drug allergies to medications or iodine, please let your doctor know.

How will my doctor perform an iron infusion?

Your iron infusion will be administered by a healthcare professional, such as a nurse or doctor, at a hospital or infusion center and is similar to any other intravenous (IV) therapy.

You will start an IV line, also called a catheter, in your arm or hand and slowly drip the iron mixed with the saline solution into your bloodstream.

You may feel a slight burning sensation when the iron enters your veins or you may feel nothing at all. You may also be given a test dose first to ensure that you will not have any adverse drug reactions or drug allergies.

The infusion can take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours and sometimes can last even longer.

The reason it takes so long is to prevent any complications. As with most other IVs, you will remain seated throughout the procedure. Please note that you may need several infusions to restore the iron levels in your body.

Which medicines are typically used for an iron infusion?

The iron supplements used in iron infusions are not the same, in fact, there are a handful used to treat iron-deficiency anemia. The most common medications used include:

  • Feraheme
  • Ferrlecit
  • Injectafer
  • Monoferric
  • Triferic AVNU
  • Venofer

The differences between the medicines range from dosing, the weight of the person receiving the infusion, and how many infusions are necessary.

Please talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about which one is right for you.

Are there any side effects to an iron infusion?

An iron infusion treatment usually has minimal side effects and you will probably be able to drive yourself home. If you have side effects, they are usually mild.

The most common side effects of iron infusions are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Itchiness
  • Rash
  • Shortness of breath or increased respiratory rate
  • Temporary change in taste
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Increased or decreased blood pressure
  • Burning sensation at the injection site
  • Swelling at the injection site
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain

More serious adverse side effects can also occur including:

  • Anaphylaxis also called a severe allergic reaction
  • Shock
  • Severe low blood pressure which is also called hypotension
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing which can be more serious if you have other breathing conditions like asthma

These are the most common side effects and a severe reaction can sometimes be avoided by your doctor administering a test dose to ensure how your body responds to the treatment.

There are other potential side effects that your doctor will discuss with you. If you experience any severe or bothersome side effects, please contact your doctor or healthcare professional.

Summary

Iron-deficiency anemia is a blood disorder caused by a lack of iron. You need iron because it helps the hemoglobin proteins in your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.

If you have iron-deficiency anemia, there are several treatment options and if oral iron supplementation doesn't work your doctor may prescribe an alternative, including an iron infusion.

An iron infusion is an intravenous iron therapy that is administered via an iron-rich saline supplement that is dripped directly into your veins by an IV and usually takes 3 to 4 hours.

The benefits of an iron infusion are that it is one of the quickest ways to treat cases of severe anemia and has less of a risk of complications than an iron injection.

There are possible side effects and you need to inform your doctor if you experience an adverse reaction. If you have any more questions regarding iron-deficiency anemia or iron infusions, please talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.

References and Sources:

Mayo Clinic

NIH

Cleveland Clinic

Sesame Care

Find the best price for great doctors and specialists

  • Thousands of doctors and specialists
  • $13,000,000+ saved by patients
  • 95% patient satisfaction
  • 4.3 on TrustPilot
     

Popular Destinations

Health

Medication

Telehealth Reviews

Shop

Pharmacist Membership

About Us

Pharmacy Near Me

Recent Articles

Share On:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?

There is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to how often you should get an eye exam, as the recommended frequency

The different types of lie bumps: Transient lingual papillitis, fungiform papillae, and other forms

Transient lingual papillitis is a condition where there are transient swellings on your tongue called lie bumps. They can be caused

What Is Genomic Medicine?

Genomic medicine uses our genetic information to provide individualized health care. Various gene therapies can potentially cure rare diseases or conditions. Genetic testing allows

Chigger Bite: Everything You Need to Know 

Do you know what chiggers are? If not, you're not alone. Many people have never heard of chiggers before, but they can be a

What Are the Benefits of Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a unique type of honey that is produced in New Zealand and Australia as it is made by bees from the

How Often Can I Take Tylenol?

We’ve all suffered from mild to moderate pain or a fever at some point in our lives, and for many of us, we’ve likely

Coffee: Potential Benefits and Adverse Effects

In this article, we will explore coffee's history, its potential benefits, and if it is safe for everyone to consume.

Parosmia: What it is, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Parosmia is an olfactory disorder where you have a distorted perception of smell and you may smell odors differently than you should. It can

What Is Levofloxacin?

Whether you’re currently fighting off pneumonia, have recently been exposed to inhalational anthrax, or are hoping to prevent infection with the plague (yes, that

Brown Recluse Spider Bites: What You Need to Know

In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of being bitten by a brown recluse spider, when to seek medical attention, and how to

What Is the Drug Levofloxacin Used For?

What happens when your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for a minor infection and it doesn’t work, or you come down with a serious case

Comparison of Azithromycin and Clarithromycin

Azithromycin and clarithromycin are both macrolide antibiotics used to treat a number of different bacterial infections, including upper respiratory tract infections, lower respiratory tract

MCHC: What It Is, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More

Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) is a measure of the average amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells with hemoglobin being responsible for transporting

What are the Symptoms of Coffee Withdrawal?

Due to the prevalence of coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks, caffeine is one of the most popular drugs in the world and

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Quercetin

Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant and quercetin supplements are often taken as a way to support good health. Quercetin can also

How Much Does the Shingrix Vaccine Cost?

About 99 percent of American adults have had chickenpox, and many incorrectly assume that this makes them immune to shingles later in life. Shingles,

All You Need to Know About Ringworm: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can be seen on the skin. It can affect both children and adults, but it's most common in

CBD Oil: What You Need to Know

CBD oil is a popular natural remedy used for many common ailments. CBD is short for cannabidiol and it is one of over 100 chemical

The Top 7 Best CBD Lotions of 2023

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that is found in cannabis and hemp plants. It has many supposed beneficial properties for the skin, making

CBD Topical Cream for Blemishes

If you are tired of dealing with sore, spotty skin and it is a problem that you still experience on a daily basis, now