New Treatment for iron deficiency

The Fuss with Ferinject

An alternative iron deficiency anaemia treatment option.

For people out there with iron deficiency, or iron deficiency anaemia, taking oral iron can sometimes be troublesome or ineffective. Victoria Point Surgery has an alternative option that may be suitable for you!

What is iron and why do we need it?

Iron is one of the building blocks of haemoglobin, which is the part of our blood that carries oxygen around the body. Without adequate iron stores, also known as ferritin, patients often report tiredness and an inability to carry out normal daily activities. Once the iron levels fall too low it can then reduce the numbers of circulating haemoglobin, causing an anaemia. This can lead to more pronounced fatigue, breathlessness, faintness and pallor.

What causes iron deficiency?

There are many common causes of iron deficiency:

  • Diets low in iron, commonly vegetarian/vegan or people on various restrictive diets
  • Poor absorption from the bowel, often seen in patients with coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and post weight-reduction surgery
  • Excessive loss such as from a heavy menstrual cycle, post-surgery or from some cancers
  • Increased demands on the existing stores such as in pregnancy and breastfeeding women

How do we treat iron deficiency? 

The first line option for treating iron deficiency is with oral iron preparations. Selecting an iron that contains an appropriate amount of elemental iron is essential as there are many options available that are unfortunately not effective for iron deficiency anaemia. Check out this link to see if your iron is a good choice! (https://www.blood.gov.au/system/files/documents/appendix-3-from-iron-product-choice-and-dose-calculation20052016.pdf)

Some people find oral iron intolerable or ineffective for many reasons:

  • irritable bowel syndrome or chronic constipation exacerbated by oral iron preparations
  • bowel surgery limiting gastric absorption ability
  • requirement for quick supplementation such as prior to major surgery or in the final trimester of pregnancy

So what about Ferinject?

For these patients intravenous (IV) iron may be a suitable option to discuss with your doctor. IV iron, with the brand name Ferinject, can be administered at Victoria Point Surgery in less than an hour. It is given via a drip in a vein in the arm and is more effective at quickly restoring iron levels than oral preparations.

Are there any risks?

As with any medication or procedure there are risks associated with IV iron, which will be discussed with you prior to the procedure. They include:

  • anaphylactic reactions
  • leakage around the drip site leading to permanent skin discolouration
  • skin irritations
  • headaches or light headedness
  • fast heart rate
  • high or low blood pressure
  • gastrointestinal upset such as nausea, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhoea, vomiting

Minor reactions may last up to 48 hours post infusion.

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