What is iron?
Iron plays a vital role in the transport and storage of oxygen, in oxidative metabolism and in cellular growth: Iron is an essential building block for haemoglobin, a protein present in the red blood cells.
Haemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and organs. Haemoglobin is dependent on iron for its formation and oxygen-carrying property, and a deficiency of iron can cause a drop in the haemoglobin level, resulting in a condition called iron deficiency anaemia.
Low haemoglobin or iron levels may cause one to feel constantly tired. This may prevent you from carrying your normal daily activities.
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Restless legs
- Low Mood
- Hair thinning
- Poor concentration, memory and learning
How is iron deficiency treated?
The aim of treatment for iron deficiency is to supply enough iron to replenish the iron stores and normalise haemoglobin concentration in anaemic patients.
It is important to establish the underlying cause of the iron deficiency. This may require other investigations such as gastroscopy, colonoscopy or capsule endoscopy if for instance, gastrointestinal bleeding is suspected. In some cases, it will be possible to cure the underlying cause and thereby prevent iron deficiency from reoccurring. In other cases, the underlying cause is not easily correctable, particularly in chronic conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. These patients often require repeated iron treatment over many years.
Types of intravenous iron available locally are:
This is an iron sucrose which cannot be given in a large dose. Rather, the formula is given in a series of small doses each taking about half an hour and repeated over a period of days and weeks.
This is an iron dextran, which can be given in a single large dose over a number of hours and requires hospital admission.
Ironcarboxymaltose, can be given intravenously in an “in room” setting with appropriate monitoring.
Monofer, iron isomaltoside, can be given intravenously in an “in room” setting with appropriate monitoring
When is iron infusion performed?
Iron infusion may be recommended for patients who require an iron replacement for the treatment of anaemia.
What does the procedure involve?
The iron will be administered by your doctor or nurse, who will insert a needle into one of your veins. This will allow the formula to enter your blood stream intravenously.
In some cases, blood tests will be taken to check for any unwanted side-effects and allergies. You may feel some light headedness and dizziness following the treatment if you have been in a lying or seated position for some time.