An Iron infusion is a procedure used to treat iron deficiency anaemia – a condition that leads to a lack of red blood cells.
Iron deficiency anaemia is very common and can affect men and women of all ages. However, it tends to mostly affect women of reproductive age, as very heavy periods and pregnancy can be a key cause. People with a history of stomach ulcers and long-term digestive disorders, as well as those with a diet that’s significantly lacking in iron, can also be more at risk. The most common symptoms are ongoing fatigue and extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, palpitations and a pale complexion. Iron deficiency anaemia can also cause headaches, hair loss, a sore tongue and mouth ulcers, among other things.
Although the symptoms can be vague and overlap with other things, iron deficiency anaemia is simple to diagnose and can be managed, so it’s important to get things checked if you’re concerned.
The condition is usually managed with dietary changes and iron supplements in tablet or liquid form. But if these aren’t suitable, or symptoms are very severe, an iron infusion can be beneficial, as the treatment replenishes blood iron levels far more quickly. The effects can also last for several months and, in some cases, even longer.
The treatment is administered via an intravenous drip. First, a needle and small tube, called a cannula, will be inserted into a vein in your arm or hand. A flexible tube, attached to a bag containing the iron solution, will then be inserted. This will enable the iron solution to enter your bloodstream. The process is completely painless – although you may feel a slight scratch when the cannula is inserted and the area might feel a bit bruised for a few days afterwards – and a nurse will check on you regularly throughout.
The procedure can take up to four hours to complete, depending on the level of iron being administered. Most people are able to go home very soon afterwards.
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