If you’re a woman who feels endlessly fatigued – like you’ve hit a wall or are permanently walking through quick-sand – then checking for an iron deficiency might be a game changer for your productivity. In fact, 15% of woman are iron deficient.

That’s a lot of women walking around unnecessarily tired – especially when it’s easily identified on a simple blood test! If you are found to be iron deficient, oral iron replacement with iron tablets is used as a first line to treat iron deficiency.  However, many patients these days prefer IV treatment because of its speed of action, because the tablets aren’t absorbed or they suffer from ongoing side-effects such as constipation. Iron infusions are becoming more popular and now more accessible for women. Local GP Dr Suzan Bekir explains more about iron deficiency and IV treatment available to treat it.

As a female GP, diagnosing iron deficiency is very common in my working day, particularly in women and especially in adolescent girls or during pregnancy.

Women with heavy menstrual periods most commonly fall victim to chronic iron deficiencies, unable to keep up the iron stores necessary to maintain their red cells with their heavy blood losses.

However, people on restricted diets such as vegetarians or vegans, athletes or after weight loss can also be susceptible.

With more and more Aussie women becoming gut-conscious and veganism going viral, it’s more important than ever that women be aware of how easily one can become iron deficient (or B12 deficient) without proper attention to an iron-rich diet. Meat is an obvious iron-rich food, however eggs and leafy greens like spinach, kale and parsley are iron rich too.

When you’re iron deficient, you’re always tired. You sleep and wake unrefreshed just wanting to sleep some more. Your nails can become brittle, your can hair fall out, you get sick more frequently and you don’t heal well. Your concentration wanes and your mood can alter and some people can feel anxious, irritable or even depressed. (Sound familiar?)

Lacking iron means lacking the fundamental building blocks that create our oxygen carrying red cells called haemaglobin. Lack iron for long enough and you’ll reduce these oxygen carrying red cells causing an anaemia – a state where you look pale, feel weak and breathless and are seriously energy depleted.

Women always tell me living with an Iron deficiency is like living life in slow-motion. Which is why seeing the energy shift after an iron infusion is truly remarkable!

Take Sarah for example, who I met this year at Taylor Clinic, Bella Vista. She’s your typical 23 year old vegetarian. She admitted she’s suffered with chronic iron deficiency for so long she was sick and tired of hearing herself complaining about feeling tired.

On this occasion, Sarah’s bloods showed low haemoglobin of 102 (an anaemia) and a ferritin (iron stores) that was <5. She had been iron deficient in the past, but the chronic low stores of her iron now meant she was not producing as many red cells, causing an anaemia! Not good. It was no wonder she had in fact been complaining of severe fatigue and breathlessness and a feeling of palpitations and dizziness, especially with exercise.

Although her fake tan covered her pallor, her racing heart rate and drop in her blood pressure when standing were instant clues. She had been taking oral supplements on and off for years but finding them difficult to take as they made her constipated.

She was grateful to find out that Iron infusions can now be done in Doctors’ offices like ours. In the not so distant past, patients like Sarah may have been referred to a hospital admission for a six hour iron infusion.  However, today she can in fact be safely managed in a general practice office with an 8 minute iron infusion of Ferinject. Now her only regret is that she didn’t know about this earlier.

Iron infusions are typically given for:

  • iron deficiency
  • iron deficiency anaemia
  • postpartum blood losses  (There is now no need for a new mother to struggle with the baby and critically low iron when you can simply offer her an intravenous infusion)
  • before major surgery in order to assist with recovery and the need for blood transfusions when there is blood losses such as orthopaedic operations, gynaecological surgery, major sinus surgery or even combined tummy tucks and breast augmentation surgery.

More about the procedure

Iron infusions can be performed over the course of about 15 minutes. The procedures starts with a consent and then a cannula is inserted by a GP or qualified nurse. Most patients do not experience any side-effects however for some patients they may experience dizziness, nausea or skin reactions where your injection is given. There is a very low risk of anaphylactic reaction. Recently it has been noted that although rare, patients may experience an iron staining at the site of injection.

Iron: the core facts

  1. Iron deficiency anaemia is a major cause of anaemia in an estimated 8% of preschool children, 12% of pregnant women, 15% of non-pregnant women of reproductive age.
  2. To diagnose iron deficiency we measure full blood examinations and serum ferritin.
  3. In the absence of clear physiological explanation for the deficiency doctors may consider gastroscopy and colonoscopies to exclude a source of gastrointestinal bleeding.
  4. Oral and treatment inappropriate doses and for sufficient duration is an effective first line strategy for most patients however in selected patients, intravenous therapy can be safely administered in the general practice office.
  5. Ferinject iron transfusions cost $285 at Taylor Clinic, Bella Vista.

If you think you might have an iron deficiency or have been battling with iron deficiency for too long, then come see me or my amazing team of GPs trained in nutritional medicine and Integrative cosmetics at Taylor Clinic. For more information, or to book a consultation, contact Taylor Clinic on 1300 003 223 / info@taylorclinic.com.au or visit www.taylorclinic.com.au

About Dr Suzan Bekir

Dr Suzan Bekir is an experienced General Practitioner with over 10 years of clinical experience, practising family medicine amongst a collective of speciality interests including sexual health, paediatrics, mental health, HRT, vitamin therapy, nutritional medicine, allergy + ENT, cosmetic medicine, skin and laser medicine.

Dr Suzie believes in a compassionate, thorough and thoughtful approach to all clinical problems. Her goal is to help her patients get healthy and stay healthy, and her mission is to make this happen, effectively.  She is a co-creator of Taylor Clinic, Dr Ink Tattoo Removal, collective.care and Australian Allergy Centre.

If you’d like to discuss any of these issues with a Doctor, you can make an appointment to see one of the Taylor Clinic doctors, who are specialised in women’s health. Bookings can be made via 1300 003 223 or online at www.taylorclinic.com.au/contact-us

About Taylor Clinic

Taylor Clinic are the experts in doctor-led integrative cosmetic medicine, health + wellbeing. Curated signature treatments are the perfect complement to yourself care ritual.

Taylor Clinic specialises in:

  • Cosmetic Injectables
  • Facial Plastic Surgery
  • PicoSure Laser
  • Vaginal Rejuvenation
  • Vitamin Infusions
  • Fat Dissolving Injections
  • Facial Contouring
  • Acne & Rosacea Treatments.