Is Iron Infusion Right For Me?

Iron infusions are usually prescribed if you have low iron levels which can lead to anemia and you have one or more of the following factors such as:

  • Unable to tolerate iron tablets because of severe side effects
  • Unable to absorb iron through the gut
  • Not responding to iron tablets due to chronic health conditions
  • Have chronic kidney disease or heart failure
  • Need rapid increase in iron levels because you are about to go for surgery or have very low haemoglobin levels

How does iron infusions work?

The iron infused will be used by your body to build new red blood cells which will in turn increase your red blood cell level and haemoglobin level. Improvement in haemoglobin usually starts within a few days and stabilises at 2-3 weeks.

Some potential side effects while receiving iron infusion include:

  • Temporary changes in taste (e.g. metallic taste in mouth)
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Dizziness, nausea or headache
  • Chest tightness or shortness of breath
  • Itch or rash
  • Changes to blood pressure or heart rate
  • Burning sensation or swelling at infusion site

These side effects occur infrequently and are usually mild. You will be closely monitored during and after the infusion by our trained clinic staff. One of the most serious risks of iron infusion is a small chance of having an allergic reaction. However, if the benefits of iron infusion outweigh the risks, iron infusions may still be prescribed after discussion with your doctor.

What is Anemia?

Anemia is a relatively common medical condition worldwide affecting mainly women and children but can also affect men of all ages and backgrounds. Globally, it is estimated that 40% of all children aged 6–59 months, 37% of pregnant women and 30% of women 15–49 years of age are affected by Anemia as per the World Health Organisation.

Anemia is when the number of red blood cells (RBCs) or the haemoglobin concentration within an individual is lower than specified thresholds established based on age, sex and physiological status. It is defined by a reduction in one or more of the major RBC measurements in a full blood count test.

Signs and symptoms of Anemia can vary depending on its cause and severity but may include:

  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Cognitive problems, such as difficulty concentrating

Factors that may cause Anemia include:

  • Nutrient deficiencies, iron deficiency being one of the most common – usually due to inadequate dietary iron intake; deficiencies in Vitamin B12 and folate
  • Inadequate diet (or the inadequate absorption of nutrients)
  • Infections or inflammation such as tuberculosis, malaria, parasitic infections and HIV
  • Chronic diseases (chronic kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease and/or certain cancers/ bone marrow disorders can interfere with the production of red blood cells)
  • Gynaecological and obstetric conditions such as blood loss form heavy menstruation bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding etc
  • Inherited red blood cell disorders such as sickle cell disorders or thalassemia
  • Low iron stores at birth

Can Anemia be cured?

In some cases, Anemia can be cured or effectively managed with appropriate treatment. However, for some individuals, continuous management and monitoring may be necessary to maintain RBC counts and prevent complications.

The treatment of Anemia depends on the underlying cause:

  • Changes in diet and food choices such as eating food rich in iron, Vitamin B12, folate, Vitamin A etc and having a healthy diet with a variety of foods.
  • Taking oral supplementations such as prescribed iron supplements, Vitamin B12, folic acid etc. Sometimes, iron infusions as discussed above may be recommended for individuals based on their ability to tolerate or absorb oral iron supplements.
  • Treating infections and managing chronic conditions well.
  • Other potential treatments include blood transfusion in severe Anemia, acute blood loss or emergency situations and/or erythropoietin (a type of hormone) injections to stimulate the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow in certain cases.

What happens if Anemia is left untreated?

The consequences of Anemia can vary. It can significantly impair daily functioning, affect school or work performance, and overall quality of life. Anemia can also lead to various other medical conditions such as heart problems, cognitive impairments (problems with memory, coordination, concentration etc.) and worsen chronic conditions. During pregnancy, Anemia may increase the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight and maternal complications and mortality.

If you’d like to discuss with your DR on testing, iron infusion, or any other treatments mentioned above, contact us today to schedule an appointment . Dr Huang Yixi is based in IMC Camden.

 

Dr Huang Yixi

Family Physician

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