BY DR RACHEL NG AT BAYWEST MEDICAL CENTRE
Iron infusion is a rapid way to replenish the body of iron and I will recommend it to patients who struggle to remember to take their oral iron supplements or are unable to tolerate the side effects associated with it. Iron infusions have also been shown to be beneficial in certain patients with chronic kidney disease and heart failure.
It is a procedure where a patient has an intravenous cannula inserted to receive iron in the form of an infusion. It can also be administered via a push injection.
The process takes just over an hour at our clinic with the actual infusion duration only 20 minutes. There is a lot of effort made to check baseline observations, finding a good vein and making sure the cannula is working well. Our patients are always closely monitored with either the GP or practice nurse staying in the same room while the infusion takes place and we monitor the observations regularly.
Common immediate side effects include headache, nausea and rashes and are usually easily manageable. However, there are two important complications that patients need to be aware of namely severe allergic reaction and iron staining.
Severe allergic reaction can be a life threatening situation and therefore we take extra caution to monitor the patient so we can act on any immediate symptom. Iron staining tends to develop after the infusion and happens as a result of extravasation of the iron into the surrounding soft tissue. It leads to a permanent discoloration of the skin and that is why we take extra steps to ensure the cannula flushes well.
We love to discuss iron deficiency, explore causes of iron deficiency and plan for infusions with patients at Baywest Medical Centre. Side effects aside, I have received a lot of positive feedback from patients and believe it has an essential role in managing iron deficiency.
Come and talk to us about your iron deficiency today!