Feeling tired? A lack of Iron might be the reason.
What does iron do for us?
Our bodies need Iron. Iron helps make haemoglobin—the part of our red blood cells that carries oxygen around our body. Without enough haemoglobin, then this might explain why you feel tired or why you’re not able to do normal daily activities.
You might also experience an increased or rapid heartbeat and have difficulty breathing. As the amount of Iron in the body falls even lower, the haemoglobin level drops below normal. This is known as iron deficiency anaemia.
One way to treat this is to take Iron via a tablet or liquid. This works well for most people and is usually the first course of action. However, your Doctor might suggest that you be given Iron straight into the body through a vein.
Do you need an iron infusion?
An Iron infusion is when Iron is delivered via an intravenous line into a person's body. There are certain groups of people who are more likely to require an Iron infusion:
If you can’t take or tolerate oral (tablet or liquid) iron supplements (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease) or the supplements have proven ineffective
If you’ve experienced serious blood loss (e.g. ulcers, heavy periods or from cancer)
If your diet does not include enough iron (see the list below)
If you take medicine that affects your body’s ability to make haemoglobin (aspirin, heparin, coumadin, etc.)
If you have a medical condition that uses up more iron (e.g. kidney failure, heart failure, late pregnancy) or you need to prepare for major surgery and are trying to avoid blood transfusion
An Iron rich diet.
The best source of iron is animal-based foods, especially red meat and offal (such as liver). Chicken, duck, pork, turkey and fish also have iron. But if you’re not a fan of red meat or are looking for all the ways to boost your iron intake, then add vegetables and beans to your diet:
Green vegetables (e.g. spinach, broccoli)
Lentils and beans
Nuts and seeds
Grains (e.g. whole wheat, brown rice)
If you haven’t had your iron levels checked recently, we would encourage you to ask the doctor as part of your annual health check.
How does it work?
The Iron is given through a needle and dripped (‘infused’) into your vein. Your doctor or a clinic nurse will administer the Iron infusion through a catheter—exactly the same way that medicines can be given via an IV (intravenous drip). This can take up to 30mins depending on the dosage. If your level of Iron deficiency is quite low, your doctor might ask you to undertake two Iron infusions, one week apart.
To prepare, there’s nothing specific but make sure that you drink plenty of water. This will help the nurse find a vein for the infusion-a handy tip for when you need to provide a blood test. At the end of your appointment, the doctor or nurse will check in on you and discuss next steps.
What should I do next?
Healthy levels of iron are critical for muscle strength, energy and good mental function. Therefore, the first step is to always discuss your health concerns with your doctor. Together, you, your doctor and the clinic’s nurse will formulate a plan to identify and implement the best course of action. A plan that improves your quality of life and helps prevents more serious issues requiring hospitalised care.