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Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the substance contained in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to all of our organs. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, up to 80% of the world’s population is iron deficient. There are a host of reasons why one might be iron deficient, including an insufficient diet, pregnancy, blood loss, cancer, heavy menstrual cycles and kidney failure. However, the outcome is always the same – a lack of iron halts the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and can negatively affect our health.

Luckily, hemodialysis centers and certain hospitals offer what is known as iron infusion – a process by which a fluid solution containing iron is administered intravenously. Iron infusions are highly effective for increasing the levels of iron in the blood and can even cure anemia. Plus, it presents an alternative for those who need a rapid replenishment in these mineral levels, have experienced excessive blood loss, or aren’t properly absorbing iron. Additionally, some people prefer not to take iron supplements. Your physician will let you know if you’re a candidate for this mode of iron supplementation. If you doctor agrees, then how would you prepare for an iron infusion?

  • Block off Time. The whole process will take up to four hours, as introducing the mineral slowly is shown to have less adverse reactions in patients.
  • For anyone who gets anxious over any sort of medical procedure, the best advice is to relax and focus on making this a comfortable experience.  The process itself is similar to having any other IV, in that a needle is utilized to insert a catheter (tiny tube) into the patient’s arm or hand. Expect a small pinch and a bit of pressure, but the rest of the procedure is pretty painless.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. Unlike when having blood drawn, there is no need to fast, and regulating your blood sugar is always a good thing.
  • Don’t forget your medication if you are prescribed, unless your doctors advises otherwise.
  • Keep your mind occupied. It always helps to bring something to keep your mind relaxed. So don’t forget your tablet to stream your favorite shows, your iPod to listen to music, or catch up on your reading.
  • Dress for the success, which in this case means loose-fitting clothing with sleeves that roll up easily. You’ll want to be as comfortable as possible, as you’ll be sitting down for several hours.
  • Test Dose. Discuss the procedure with your doctor ahead of the day. To ensure your safety, the medical professional will often perform a “test dose” to be sure you don’t have any allergic reactions to the drip.

In many cases, iron infusions aren’t a one-time “quick fix.” It may take several infusions to raise your iron levels to the appropriate amounts.  If you’re supplementing with iron pills – and making sure your menu is jam-packed with iron-rich foods such as tuna, eggs and beef, but are still deficient, it may be time to consider a different solution. In addition to treating disorders of the esophagus, stomach and small and large intestines, the board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at US Digestive Health offer in-house iron infusions. For more information, call 717-245-2228.

 

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