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An iron infusion is a procedure in which iron is delivered to your body intravenously (IV), meaning into a vein through a needle.
Iron infusions can be prescribed by doctors to treat iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Iron deficiency anemia is typically treated with dietary changes and iron supplements that you take in pill form. In some cases, though, doctors may recommend iron infusions instead.
Australian health statistics show that in 2013 IV iron was administered to 0.4 in 100 Australian women of reproductive age. In 2017 that statistic had increased to 2.1 in 100 Australian women of reproductive age.
Statistics from Medibank in 2016 show that IDA increased by 20% in women of reproductive age. This doesn’t match the 5 x increase in IV administration.
IV iron doesn’t guarantee a quick approach to fixing your long standing iron issues. There are responders and non-responders to IV iron.
The research shows that women who have a ferritin over 15 ug/L, who would be classified as having low iron but not suffering IDA are typically non-responders. After 6 weeks of receiving the IV iron, there is found to be no statistical difference in the iron circulated in their body, the iron from the infusion is instead sequestered in the liver as stored iron.
The human body contains between 3.5 – 5g of iron. Typically 1g sits in the liver as ferritin (iron stores), with 2.5g being distributed in the blood.
An IV iron dose contains between: 500mg-1.5g delivered over minutes or hours. This would take months or even a year or two to acquire through diet and oral supplementation.
The standard of care in oral iron supplementation is to prescribe a high dose iron supplement such as Ferrograd-C or Maltefor. These are ineffective and cause unwanted symptoms like constipation, gas and bloating.
Instead what has been found to be effective is:
If new research on iron metabolism and homeostasis shows that the current standard of care is ineffective in treating low iron via oral supplementation, is this perhaps in part why IV infusions are increasing rapidly?
If you have been struggling with your iron levels, then the next step is booking in a complimentary consultation in which we will discuss your health challenges, health goals & what’s needed to get you there!