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Iron Infusions: Everything You Need to Know
If your doctor has recently recommended an iron infusion for you, then you may be wondering about what these treatments involve. Or perhaps you are proactive about your health and suspect you may be iron deficient. In either case, this article will give you an overview of why your doctor might prescribe iron infusions, some frequently asked questions about the treatment, and what to expect throughout the process.
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common types of anemia (a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues). Many people don’t realize they have it until they start feeling the symptoms. Iron deficiency anemia affects about 1 in 10 women and 1 in 15 men and is a leading cause of fatigue.
You might not know it, but your body uses iron to transport oxygen throughout your body. If you’re experiencing chronic fatigue, the culprit may be an iron deficiency. When administered by a medical professional, iv iron infusions can quickly fix this.
Why Get an Iron Infusion?
As mentioned above, if feeling tired or weak is a common experience for you, you may have chronic anemia. An iv iron infusion is an efficient way to take care of that problem.
Ferritin is a blood protein that stores iron for your body to use when its supply is low. So if you have low ferritin, it essentially depletes your body of its iron stores and is an indicator of anemia and other issues. Boosting your ferritin level is a benefit of an iv iron infusion.
Closely related to anemia, unexplained fatigue that is difficult to nail down can often be traced back to an iron deficiency. The good news is, if that is the problem, an iv iron infusion could be a solution.
Rapid heart rate
If you notice that your heart is beating faster than it should, it could be a result of low iron. As described above, when you are low on iron, your cells become depleted of their oxygen supply. The result is that your heart has to work harder to pump, thus, elevated heart rates.
Shortness of breath
Almost inseparable from the low-iron consequence of fast heart rate, shortness of breath is common. As your cells fight for the oxygen that is in short supply in the bloodstream, your body will struggle to do even everyday activities such as walking. The result is that you will often find yourself having a difficult time breathing. An iv iron infusion can often solve this.
How to Get an Iron Infusion
To identify if you are a candidate for an iv iron infusion, current lab work within the last 30 days is the starting point. This will give the clinic a reading on your ferritin levels and potential anemia.
Dr. Eli Hudson of Encompass Direct Care advises, “The ideal range for a ferritin lab is between 100 and 130 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter), and most people don’t feel well unless their ferritin is within that range.”
According to the Merck Manual, a value under 30 is considered below normal, and anything less than 12 is specific to iron deficiency. With current lab work, a range below normal will allow the clinic to proceed with iv iron infusion treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions about IV Iron Infusions
How many iron infusions do I need?
“It usually takes about three IVs to get to that ideal range. Often, that’s enough, but it is variable and depends on the individual,” says Dr. Hudson. “Our treatment plan is based on current ferritin levels and when the patient begins to feel that fatigue kick in again. We won’t know how often the patient needs iron IVs until we are able to measure their response through lab work.”
What happens after the treatment?
“Research says it takes about a week for ferritin levels to peak,” states Dr. Hudson. “I’ve seen increases in ferritin of about 10 points on the low end, to about 70 points on the high-end per IV. No two people are exactly the same, and it depends on how the body processes and absorbs it. How much the patient weighs is also a significant factor.”
How long after an iron infusion will I feel better?
“Unfortunately, there’s never going to be a great answer for that,” says Dr. Hudson. Many factors can influence the effectiveness of an iron infusion. It depends on how well the body responds to it, and we won’t have a definitive answer until the patient tries it. Then, based on their response, we will have a better idea how often they are needed and how quickly they will feel better.”
How does an iron infusion work?
Dr. Hudson explains, “Your body is going to repackage that iron into new red blood cells in the next 180 days, so the ferritin level should drop a bit. But if the patient is recycling those cells appropriately, ferritin should stay at an optimal level. If not, something’s going on, and we’ve got to figure out why. I recommend proactively retesting the ferritin level after six months.”
What are the types of iron infusions?
The two most common types of iron infusion products are Venofer and Injectafer, per Dr. Hudson. The difference between the two has to do with the concentration of iron you’re putting in at one sitting and how fast it goes into your body.
Venofer carries less risk because it is a low molecular weight iron (less concentrated), whereas Injectafer has a higher molecular weight (more concentrated) which carries more risk.
How much does an iron infusion cost?
“The cost will vary dramatically depending on if you are receiving treatment in a hospital or at a doctor’s office and their individual overhead expenses,” adds Dr. Hudson. “It also depends upon the type of iron infusion you are receiving. I’ve seen hospital bills for Injectafer infusions upwards of 14 thousand dollars per treatment. In our clinic, we use Venofer, which is $189 per treatment at our facility.”
Iron Infusion Side Effects and Risks
While iron infusions are overall safe and low-risk, especially if treated at a reputable IV therapy clinic, it is important to note that there may be some side effects after your treatment.
Dr. Hudson notes, “The most common side effects with Venofer I’ve seen in my practice are hypotension, nausea, tightness in the chest, and muscle aches.”
Other potential side effects of Venofer could include:
- blurred vision
- difficult or labored breathing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- pounding in the ears
- slow or fast heartbeat
- tingling of the hands or feet
The list of side effects of Injectafer is similar to that of Venofer. A more comprehensive list can be found here. Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of these side effects occur during or immediately after an iron infusion.
“With iron infusions, hypersensitivity reactions (where a substance or medication triggers an extreme and adverse reaction from the immune system) are one thing we have to look out for,” warns Hudson. It’s extremely rare, but the risk does exist. As a precaution, we have EpiPens, IV Benadryl, and oxygen on hand.”
As with any procedure that breaks the skin barrier, there is a potential risk for infection. You can minimize that risk by choosing a high-quality IV therapy practice. Unfortunately, not all clinics are equal in that regard. You can read more about how to find a good IV therapy clinic to minimize your risk of infection here.
In conclusion, iron deficiency is the culprit behind various issues, as outlined, whose cause can be otherwise difficult to pinpoint. Getting lab work done is the first step in discovering if low iron may be causing you health issues such as chronic fatigue. If the results indicate you are a candidate for an iv iron infusion, the next step is getting your first treatment scheduled.
At Encompass Direct Care, we take great pride in making sure our patients have a safe, sanitary, pleasant experience for iv therapy and all the other services we provide.
IV Therapy in Vancouver WA: How to Choose the Right IV Therapy Clinic
If you’re looking for a place to get IV therapy in Vancouver, WA, you might be wondering what to look for when choosing the right clinic. This article provides seven tips that will help you make informed decisions about your health and wellness, specifically IV therapy in Vancouver, WA.
For a brief background, intravenous therapy – more commonly referred to as IV therapy – is a well-established medical practice that delivers medication, fluid, or other essential vitamins and minerals directly into the bloodstream, ensuring complete absorption. Hospitals have long used IV therapy for administering medications. Now, it is snowballing in popularity among health-conscious people of all ages to deliver supportive nutrients for therapeutic uses and preventative healthcare.
When considering where to go for IV therapy in Vancouver, WA, it is crucial to consider the following seven factors.
Cleanliness – is the equipment clean?
When it comes to your health and safety, specifically regarding treatment that involves an injection, we cannot overemphasize the importance of cleanliness. “Everything should be sterile and easily sanitized,” says Dr. Eli Hudson. Unclean conditions can make you more vulnerable to infection or illness. The equipment should be clean, but also the surrounding area. Countertops and other surface areas should be free of dust, clutter, and debris.
Similarly, while cleanliness in the treatment area is paramount, observing the office as a whole can be telling. The waiting room, bathroom, and general areas kept clean and tidy are indicators that a practice places a high priority on sanitary conditions for patients.
Are treatments prepared under a Laminar Flow Hood?
A Laminar Flow Hood is like a portable cleanroom. Professional healthcare facilities understand it is critical to prepare IV treatments in an environment free from airborne contamination. Thus, prepping IVs under a flow hood is essential. Noting that extra caution for patients is a priority, Dr. Hudson adds, “It’s another layer of protection for the safety & health of IV recipients. Not every facility uses one, but they should.”
Ask about osmolarity
The osmolarity is the concentration level of the formula inside the IV therapy bag. More than just a way to sound educated, asking about the IV therapy treatment’s osmolarity will help you determine if you’re dealing with a top-tier practitioner or perhaps someone with less experience or competence.
When considering a location to get IV therapy in Vancouver, WA, Dr. Hudson recommends asking them about osmolarity. “If they can’t tell you what the osmolarity is, they haven’t checked to make sure their formulas are properly concentrated.” That could put you at a higher risk for potential side effects, so it is important to know.
Ask about Ph – is the IV treatment Ph-balanced?
The term “Ph-balanced” gets thrown around a lot with health and beauty products. It is an expression of the acidity of the item in question. A proper Ph-balance ensures that the formula aligns with the natural Ph of what is best suited for your body.
If the treatment is not Ph-balanced, the IV could be painful. “A Ph-balanced IV lowers the risk of phlebitis, a painful inflammation of the veins,” warns Dr. Hudson. The discomfort of phlebitis could easily overshadow the positive effects of IV therapy treatment. Considering that individuals seek out IV treatments to promote optimal health, unnecessary inflammation is counterproductive to the goal. Therefore, it is essential to find a provider that strives to maintain Ph-balance in their treatments.
Are the supplies organized?
Just like a clean office and treatment area are good signs that a clinic prioritizes patient health and safety, the way they organize (or fail to), is a likely indicator of the quality of service.
One tip is to ask to see where they keep their vials or nutrients. Dr. Hudson adds, “If things are disorganized and look like a mess, you shouldn’t be getting an IV there.” On the contrary, clear organization, labeling, and a tidy workspace are key indicators to be confident in the quality of the service you receive.
Think of it this way: when everything has a place, items are labeled, stored correctly, and kept clean; it is a solid indicator that they are concerned with detail and professionalism. Facilities with elevated care and organization will likely bring that same level of attention to the treatment of their patients.
Watch out for up-selling
When you visit a health clinic, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you are being taken advantage of with unnecessary items and services for sale. Similar to the closer at a car dealership who wants to sell you an extended warranty, if the office staff at the clinic is trying to up-sell you a bunch of add-ons, you should be skeptical. It is unlikely you really need them. Like many up-sells, the philosophy is to capitalize on a fear you may have or offer a “limited-time special,” creating a false urgency to buy something you don’t need.
“There’s a difference between selling a product and practicing medicine,” Dr. Hudson reminds us. The most reputable clinic is concerned with your health first and foremost – not making a few extra bucks from each of your visits. If an IV therapy clinic pesters you to add-on services, consider looking elsewhere.
Do they apply heat before IV insertion?
Often it is the extra touches that tell you the place of business is concerned about you having a positive experience, like the dentist’s office that offers you a bottle of water during your wait or an auto shop with self-service popcorn. Similarly, it is not a medical requirement to apply heat before an IV therapy treatment, but it is a nice touch. It is a sign that the medical team is looking out for you.
The IV therapy pack contains cold fluids – which means when inserted straight away, it can result in cold, uncomfortable hands, arms, or veins. Dr. Eli Hudson says, “A hot pack can make the experience much more comfortable.” Getting poked with needles is already an uncomfortable experience for many people, so a health provider who seeks to minimize the discomfort by applying heat to the area before treatment indicates that you’ve found the right place to receive your IV therapy.
These seven points are solid indicators of whether the clinic you are researching for IV therapy is reputable and prioritizes your health, safety, and comfort as the patient. If you find one or more of these items missing or not to your satisfaction, we suggest looking elsewhere for treatment.
We are committed to all of these items as part of our practice every day for each patient. Dr. Eli Hudson and the team at Encompass Direct Care take pride in providing a clean, sanitary, and organized facility. Additionally, we check our IV formulas for proper osmolarity (concentration) and Ph-balance (correct acid balance). Our priority is to provide you with the most comfortable treatment experience in our commitment to our patients. Our goal is to give the best service to achieve and maintain optimal health.
When looking for IV therapy in Vancouver, WA, we’d be honored to have you give us a try at Encompass Direct Care.