Medical care providers administer intravenous iron infusions through a needle in the vein. Infusions normally take place in a doctor's office or clinic. Some infusions take several hours to complete, and patients may require several treatments to bring their iron levels back to normal, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Patients who receive intravenous iron infusions are generally unable to meet their needs through diet or oral iron supplements, reports the Cleveland Clinic. Patients with bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract may require a fast method of replenishing the iron they are losing. Those with inflammatory bowel disease are often unable to tolerate the side effects of oral iron supplements. Some patients who have iron deficiency anemia require an infusion as a preparatory step for an upcoming surgery.
Prior to prescribing an iron infusion, a doctor tests the patient's blood. The results of the blood tests help the doctor to diagnose anemia, indicates the Cleveland Clinic. He then tries to determine the cause of anemia before treating it.
Patients who receive iron infusions usually begin to feel better within a week to a month of beginning the therapy. Infusions potentially lead to side effects ranging from swelling and low blood pressure to anaphylaxis, warns the Cleveland Clinic. Patients should monitor themselves for any side effects and call their provider with any questions.