Are you feeling fatigued, weak, or lacking energy? If so, you might be dealing with an iron deficiency. Iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in our bodies, aiding in the production of red blood cells. When our iron levels are low, we can experience a range of symptoms and health issues. Luckily, IV iron therapy has emerged as an effective solution for replenishing iron levels. In this article, we’ll explore IV iron therapy.
Indications for Treatment
Iron deficiency anemia should be treated whether or not symptoms are present. Iron deficiency anemia can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, which can cause weariness, poor energy or low blood flow.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Fatigue and Weakness
- Pale Skin and Nail Changes
- Shortness of Breath
- Heart Palpitations and Rapid Heartbeat
- Dizziness and Headaches
- Cold Hands and Feet
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat
What are the Causes of Iron Deficiency?
Understanding the causes of iron deficiency is crucial for identifying the underlying issue and addressing it effectively. Let’s delve into the details!
One of the primary causes of iron deficiency is a lack of dietary intake of iron-rich foods. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells, and insufficient consumption of iron can lead to low iron levels over time. If your diet lacks iron-rich foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fortified grains, you may be at risk of developing iron deficiency.
Impaired Gastrointestinal Absorption:
Even if you consume an adequate amount of iron-rich foods, certain conditions can impair the absorption of iron. Conditions such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and gastric bypass surgery can affect the absorption of nutrients, including iron. As a result, your body may struggle to absorb iron from the foods you consume, leading to iron deficiency.
During pregnancy, a woman’s iron requirements increase to support the growing fetus. If the iron intake is insufficient to meet these increased demands, iron stores can become depleted. It’s essential for pregnant women to pay special attention to their iron intake.
Acute or Chronic Blood Loss:
Blood loss, whether sudden or gradual, can lead to iron deficiency. Acute blood loss may occur due to accidents, surgeries, or childbirth. Chronic blood loss can result from conditions such as peptic ulcers, or certain types of cancers. When blood is lost, iron is carried away with it, depleting the body’s iron stores and leading to iron deficiency over time.
What is the Role of Diet in Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anemia?
A typical, healthy, and balanced diet has enough iron to satisfy human metabolic needs. The danger of an iron shortage is reduced in strict vegetarians and vegans since their meals contain grains that have been fortified with iron, despite the fact that these diets are lower in iron content. Dietary modifications alone aren’t enough to address an underlying iron shortage.
Treatment of Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Iron deficiency patients have shown that iron replacement therapy can enhance athletic performance, increase fingernail strength and reduce fragility, and enhance sleep patterns, even in runners and higher performance athletes.
- A study that treated 90 postmenopausal non-anemic women with fatigue and documented iron deficiency (serum ferritin 50 ng/mL, haemoglobin >12 g/dL) found that the group receiving IV iron replacement therapy (treated with a cumulative dose of 800 mg of IV iron for 2 weeks) had better outcomes than the placebo group when evaluated six weeks after the treatments.Improvements in the parameters for fatigue were seen in the treatment group (those who got the IV iron treatment); these improvements were more obvious if the initial ferritin was lower than 15ng/mL, indicating they had decreased total body iron reserves. After therapy, these advantages persisted for 12 weeks. Following therapy, a lab check revealed that the group receiving IV iron had an increased ferritin level of about 100ng/mL.
Available preparations of Oral Iron for Iron Deficiency Treatment
Ferrous sulfate is one of the most commonly prescribed forms of oral iron supplements. It is available in different tablet strengths, such as 325 mg and 65 mg. The recommended dosage typically ranges from 325 mg to 65 mg, taken once or twice daily.
Ferrous fumarate is another form of oral iron supplement available in tablet form. It is generally prescribed at a strength of 300 mg per tablet. The recommended dosage typically ranges from one to three tablets per day, depending on your iron deficiency severity and tolerance.
Ferrous gluconate is a milder form of oral iron supplement. It is available in tablet strengths ranging from 300 mg to 36 mg. The recommended dosage often starts at one tablet, typically containing 325 mg, taken once or twice daily.
Polysaccharide-Iron Complex Tablets
Polysaccharide-iron complex is commonly available in tablet form. The dosage strength of these tablets may vary depending on the specific brand and formulation. Typically, the recommended dose for adults is around 150-200 mg of elemental iron per day.
IV Iron Therapy for Iron Deficiency Treatment
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease, or those whose rate of blood loss exceeds the amount of iron provided by oral therapy, and many other conditions have all been shown to benefit from conversion to IV iron therapy.
Which Form of IV Iron Should I Receive?
There are different forms of IV iron available, each with its own characteristics and considerations. The choice of IV iron depends on various factors, including your medical condition, and iron deficiency severity.
The two main forms of IV iron used are iron dextran and iron sucrose. Iron dextran is a complex of iron and dextran, a sugar molecule. It has been used for many years and is effective in treating iron deficiency. Iron sucrose is another form of IV iron that is widely used and generally well-tolerated.
Iron dextran is administered as a slow infusion, and it may need a test dose prior to the full treatment. On the other hand, iron sucrose is usually given as a shorter infusion and may not require a test dose in most cases.
What are the Risks of IV Iron Infusions
Here are some of the risks associated with IV iron infusions:
Allergic reactions: Although rare, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction to the iron infusion. Symptoms can include hives, itching, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. It’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of these symptoms during or after the infusion.
Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. While extremely rare, it’s important to be aware of the signs, such as difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, or a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Infection: Anytime a foreign substance is introduced into the body through an IV, there is a risk of infection. Proper sterile techniques should be followed during the infusion process to minimize this risk. If you notice signs of infection at the injection site, such as redness, swelling, warmth, or pain, contact your healthcare provider.
Iron overload: IV iron infusions can sometimes lead to iron overload in the body. Iron overload can have detrimental effects on various organs, including the liver, heart, and pancreas. Regular monitoring of iron levels is important to prevent this complication.
Nausea and vomiting: Some individuals may experience mild gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, or stomach discomfort during or after the infusion. These symptoms are usually temporary and can be managed with medication or by slowing down the infusion rate.
When will I feel the benefits of IV Iron treatment?
When it comes to IV iron treatment, the timing can vary from person to person. But, many people start feeling the benefits within a few days to a couple of weeks after receiving the treatment.
You might start noticing improvements in your energy levels and overall vitality. Many people experience a reduction in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
IV iron therapy can be a game-changer for individuals dealing with iron deficiency anemia and its associated symptoms. While the exact timing of when you’ll feel the benefits can vary, many people start experiencing positive changes within a few days.