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HealthInfo Canterbury

Intravenous (IV) iron

There are different types of iron solutions. This page is about the type of iron solution called ferric carboxymaltose (Ferinject).

If you're low in iron, your doctor may prescribe intravenous (IV) iron to boost your levels. This means you'll get an iron solution directly into your bloodstream, through a needle that goes into one of your veins.

You'll receive the iron at a general practice, the Medical Day Unit at Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch Women's Hospital or the Medical Day Unit at Ashburton Hospital.

Your treatment will take at least 15 minutes and in some cases may take up to an hour. You'll have to be there 15 minutes before the treatment and wait 30 minutes afterwards to make sure you're well after the infusion.

Before your treatment

Your doctor will ask some questions to make sure IV iron is the right treatment for you. They'll want to know if you:

Side effects

Like all medicines, IV iron can have side effects. Your doctor will talk to you about the possible side effects. Your nurse will monitor you during the infusion to check if you're having any side effects.

The most common side effect of IV iron is a headache. Usually this happens soon after having the infusion and goes away if you take paracetamol. Other side effects include feeling dizzy or sick or staining of your skin around the injection site.

There's a very low risk you may have an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This can make your face, mouth and tongue swell and can make it difficult to breathe. It's most likely to happen soon after the treatment. This is very rare, but it's a serious reaction and it's why you need to wait for 30 minutes after the infusion to check you have no problems.

If you're feeling unwell or think you may be having side effects, either during or after the treatment, it's very important to tell the doctor or nurse looking after you.

After your treatment

You'll have to wait 30 minutes after your treatment, to make sure you don't have any side effects.

If you’re at home and could be having an allergic reaction such as your face or tongue swelling, collapsing or difficulty breathing, phone 111.

If you take iron tablets, you'll be asked to stop taking them for three months.

It can take some time for your iron levels to improve, so your doctor will ask you to have a repeat blood test six to 12 weeks after your treatment. You may need a second treatment if your iron levels are still low.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2020.


See also:

How to get your daily iron

Iron-rich meal ideas

Taking iron supplements

Page reference: 380676

Review key: HIIRO-122590