An iron infusion procedure becomes necessary when a patient has iron-deficiency anemia but is unable to take oral iron supplements, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This includes patients with digestion problems that prevent them from tolerating or absorbing iron, patients who need rapid iron replacement due to blood loss or patients who are taking certain medications.
Iron supplementation becomes necessary when a patient develops anemia, a deficiency in red blood cells. This deficiency can occur due to blood loss, a diet without sufficient iron sources or an increase in the body's need for iron, says the Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, shortness of breath, paleness or feeling unusually cold. Women and the elderly have a higher risk of developing anemia, as do people with certain medical conditions.
After insertion of a needle into the patient's vein, the medical staff administers the infusion of iron, which can take up to several hours, explains the Cleveland Clinic. A patient typically receives these infusions over the course of several visits in order to ensure that the iron levels improve sufficiently. Common side effects after an iron infusion include dizziness when sitting up or standing quickly, swelling of the face or extremities, and abdominal pain or nausea. The patient's anemia symptoms may improve within a week to a month after receiving the infusion.