Many things make us tired in our busy lives. Low iron in our body is a common cause, with women being more affected than men. Low body iron, called ‘Iron Deficiency’, can leave us feeling tired, irritable and unable to concentrate. Some people can also experience poor memory and have dizzy spells. There are many causes for this including a lack of variety in our food (eg. strict vegan diet), blood loss, such as from heavy periods, and poor absorption of foods through the gut. Often, increased requirements for iron, such as happens during pregnancy, can also lead to deficiency. Iron deficiency is the single most common human nutritional deficiency in the world. If there is not a clear cause for the iron deficiency, further investigations are required. Iron deficiency can be the first sign of serious diseases, such as coeliac disease and bowel cancer.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around our body and have iron as a key component in their making and molecular structure. When iron deficiency goes untreated, it can get worse and cause our bodies’ red blood cell count to drop affecting our bodies’ oxygen carrying capacity. When iron deficiency causes a drop in the number of red blood cells, it is called ‘Iron Deficiency Anaemia’. This can make us not only tired, but breathless on exertion. Iron Deficient Anaemia can have significant impact on focusing in class or at work and also reduce athletic performance, especially with aerobic sports like rowing, running, triathlon and cycling.
At Manly Village Medical we offer iron infusions (Ferinject) to appropriate patients who have been identified as iron deficient and for whom oral iron replacement has not been sufficient or is not appropriate. Intramuscular injections of iron are available, but require several weeks of multiple painful injections. IV iron infusions deliver much-needed iron directly into your blood to help combat these symptoms and is a quick, easy and effective way to restore normal body iron levels.
Organising an iron infusion will generally involve an initial consultation with your doctor to discuss the procedure and determine the dose of iron required. Once you have been adequately informed and doses have been calculated, you will receive a prescription for the iron injection to pick up from the pharmacy.
A second (longer) consult will then occur; involving you bringing along the prescription, a short discussion with the doctor to make sure you are happy to proceed and then commencing the procedure. We insert an intravenous cannula into a vein in your arm and give you an infusion of iron which is about 100mls in total. This infusion will run under the watchful eye of our nurse, who will also be observing you for a few minutes after the procedure. This consult should last approximately 30-45 minutes.
A second infusion a week later may or may not be required and then a blood test 6 weeks later to see how your iron levels have improved. If you have been referred to us by your usual GP, this process may be altered/shortened.
For further information on Iron Deficiency, look at:https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/iron-deficiency-adults
If you think you may be low in iron, don’t self-diagnose – see your doctor about it! It may be more than life-changing, it could be life-saving.