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Because it is normally caused by a lack of iron in the diet, anemia may not be noticeable initially. It often develops over months as the body becomes more and more nutrient deficient. Not having enough iron in the body means that a person will not produce enough red blood cells, which leads to the symptoms described. Iron is used to make hemoglobin, which is an important part of red blood cells and helps carry oxygen throughout the body. In an infusion procedure, the mineral is delivered into the body using a needle. This needle is injected into a vein in order to supply iron faster and more efficiently than just taking a supplement by mouth or changing one’s diet. Dietary changes can also be more complicated for the patient than getting an infusion. In some people, iron is not absorbed adequately by the digestive system. In other situations, rapid intake is needed to combat problems like blood loss. This can be critical to the patient’s well-being. The benefits of infusions include increased energy, easier breathing, less fatigue, better sleep and improvements in mood. Fasting is not required for an iron infusion, and regular medications can be taken as well. When performed correctly, infusions are safe and will remedy the problems caused by anemia quickly.
Infusions normally take place in hospitals and hemodialysis centers. The mineral is usually administered by a doctor or nurse, who will use a needle to insert a small tube called a catheter into a patient’s vein. The needle is then removed, however, the catheter remains in the vein. This catheter is attached to a tube, which is attached to an IV bag that contains the mineral diluted in a saline solution. There are different types of IVs, and typically the solution in the bag is either pumped into the vein or gravity is allowed to simply drip it in. The physician will decide what type of IV to use depending on the patient’s symptoms. It’s important to decide on the correct IV to use because IV pumps can cause more fluid than is necessary to be administered. On the other hand, IV drips do not always provide the necessary amount of fluid that the patient needs in more severe circumstances. IV procedures are normally painless, aside from a slight pinching sensation when the needle is first inserted. A test dose of the iron is initially all that is administered, in order for the healthcare provider to ensure that there is no adverse reaction to the medicine. This test dose does not take long and is necessary to ensure the safety of the patient during the procedure. An infusion can take up to 3 or 4 hours, during which the patient is normally seated. If the iron were administered any faster complications could result. Depending on the severity of the patient’s deficiency, several infusions may be required. These are administered over the course of a few weeks. An iron infusion will usually not interrupt a person’s normal functioning, and regular activities can be resumed immediately following the procedure. Pregnant women need more nutrients than usual to support the fetus, and infusions are administered during the second or third trimester of the pregnancy. Administering it during the first trimester may be dangerous.
Another method of treating iron deficiency anemia is through what’s called an iron injection. In this procedure, the mineral is injected directly into a muscle using a needle. Normally, the injection site is the buttocks, because it’s the most efficient site for injection. An injection administers the entire dose immediately unlike an infusion. Injections can, however, be painful, so it’s up to the physician to decide the best course of treatment. Injections can be necessary for situations where the patient needs the mineral faster than an infusion would provide. Unless there are time constraints, infusions are more common than injections due to being less error-prone and easier to monitor. Too much iron in the bloodstream at once can cause discomfort for the patient and can complicate treatment.
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