10 Side Effects From Iron Infusion: What to Expect & How to Manage

Learn about side effects from iron infusion, how to manage them, and when to get help from your doctor.

If you don’t have enough iron in your body (that’s called anemia), your doctor might suggest an iron infusion. This treatment gives you iron directly through a tiny tube in your arm. It usually works well, but it’s a good idea to know about possible side effects from iron infusion so you’re not surprised.

What is an iron infusion?

Think of an iron infusion like getting special “energy medicine” through a tiny straw called an IV that goes in your arm. The medicine is a special kind of iron that goes directly into your blood.

Side Effects from Iron Infusion

A clinical setting in a hospital where a male patient is experiencing side effects from Iron Infusion

A clinical setting in a hospital where a male patient is experiencing side effects from Iron Infusion

Most people feel okay after an iron infusion, but sometimes it can cause side effects for a little while. These are usually not bad and go away on their own:

Common Stuff

  • Funny Taste: Things might taste a bit like metal for a short time.
  • Headache
  • Tummy Ache: You might feel a little sick or have a bellyache.
  • Achy Muscles or Joints: Your muscles or joints might feel sore.
  • Feeling Hot or Dizzy: This usually doesn’t last long.

Serious Stuff (This Doesn’t Happen Often)

  • Bad Allergies: If it’s hard to breathe, you get itchy bumps, or your face gets puffy, get help right away!
  • Feeling Really Dizzy or Faint: This means your blood pressure might be too low.

Let your doctor know about any side effects you have, even if they seem small. It’s good for them to know what’s happening.

Why You Might Need an Iron Infusion

Sometimes your body doesn’t have enough iron. This makes you feel really tired and weak, and it’s called anemia. Iron infusions are like a special way to get iron straight into your blood if iron pills don’t work well for you. Here’s why your doctor might suggest one:

  • Tummy Trouble: Iron pills can make your tummy feel yucky or give you other problems. An infusion is a way to get iron without upsetting your stomach.
  • Your Body Can’t Use the Iron: Some sicknesses make it hard for your body to take the iron from food or pills. An infusion goes right into your blood where it needs to be.
  • You Lost a Lot of Blood: If you have surgery, get hurt badly, or have really heavy periods, you might lose blood too fast. An iron infusion is like a quick energy boost.
  • Kidney Problems: Your kidneys help you make healthy blood. If they’re not working right, you might need extra help. Iron infusions can be used with other medicine to fix this.
  • Other Reasons: Sometimes, if you have heart problems or are getting special medicine called “chemo,” an iron infusion can help you stay strong.

Your Doctor Knows Best! They’ll check how much iron you have and talk about your health to decide if an iron infusion is a good idea for you.

How is an iron infusion administered?

Here’s how an iron infusion is administered, along with important safety information:

Administration Process

  1. Consultation: Beforehand, your doctor will discuss your medical history, why you need iron, and potential risks/side effects of the infusion.
  2. Preparation:
    • A blood test is done to confirm iron deficiency and measure baseline levels.
    • You may receive instructions about eating or taking medications before the infusion.
  3. IV Insertion: A nurse or technician will insert a small intravenous (IV) line into a vein, usually in your arm.
  4. Infusion: The calculated dose of iron is diluted in a saline solution and slowly delivered through the IV line. This process can take several hours.
  5. Monitoring: You’ll be closely monitored for any side effects during the infusion and for a short period afterward.

How much does an iron infusion cost?

The cost of an iron infusion can vary widely, ranging from around $400 to over $4,300. Several factors can influence the price, including:

  • Type of iron medication: The specific type of iron used for your infusion.
  • Dosage: How much iron you need based on your deficiency.
  • Location: Costs can differ between hospitals, clinics, and regions.
  • Insurance coverage: Your insurance plan and specific policy will play a major role in determining your out-of-pocket costs.

It’s best to discuss the costs directly with your doctor and your insurance provider. They can give you the most accurate and personalized estimate.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While iron infusions are generally safe, it’s important to watch for any side effects. Some require immediate attention, while others might just need a conversation with your doctor.

Signs of a Bad Allergic Reaction: Get Help Immediately!

  • Trouble Breathing: Wheezing, shortness of breath, or a feeling of tightness in your chest.
  • Swelling: Hives, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Severe Dizziness or Fainting: This could signal a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Don’t Ignore These Symptoms: Call Your Doctor

  • Worsening Side Effects: If things like nausea, headaches, or muscle aches get worse instead of better over a few days.
  • New or Unusual Symptoms: Anything that you’re concerned about that wasn’t there before your infusion. This could include chest pain, rash, or fever.
  • Lingering Side Effects: Most mild side effects should go away on their own within a few days. If they stick around longer, let your doctor know.

Your doctor is there to help! Even if you’re not sure if something is serious, it’s always better to check. Don’t hesitate to call if you have any concerns after your iron infusion.

Managing Side Effects

Here are some tips to help you feel better:

Taming Tummy Troubles

  • Talk to your doctor about anti-nausea medication. They may prescribe something to help prevent or lessen stomach upset.
  • Eat a light snack before your infusion. Avoid going in on an empty stomach, but also don’t have a huge meal right before. A small, simple snack might help settle your stomach.

Easing Aches and Pains

  • Over-the-counter pain relief: Ibuprofen (like Advil) or acetaminophen (like Tylenol) can help with headaches, muscle soreness, or tenderness where you got the IV.
  • Comfort for the injection site: A cool compress or warm washcloth can soothe any soreness where the needle went in.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can sometimes ease headaches and flush out side effects faster.

The Importance of Communication

  • Your doctor is your ally! Let them know which side effects are bothering you the most. They might be able to adjust your infusion rate, suggest medications, or give you other tips tailored to your situation.
  • Don’t suffer in silence: Even seemingly mild things can really impact your day. Be open with your doctor, so they can help you find relief.

Sometimes, simply slowing down the rate of your iron infusion can help lessen side effects. Discuss this option with your healthcare provider if things are uncomfortable.

Long-Term Considerations

It’s important to keep an eye on your iron levels to make sure they stay within a healthy range.

The Importance of Follow-up

Your doctor will likely recommend that you have your iron levels checked again after your infusion(s). This helps ensure that the treatment worked and that your iron isn’t getting too high.

Why Too Much Iron Is a Problem

While your body needs iron, having too much for extended periods can actually be harmful. Excess iron can build up in your organs over time, potentially causing issues with your liver, heart, and other parts of your body.

Monitoring Prevents Problems

Regular blood tests allow your doctor to track your iron levels and adjust your treatment plan if needed. This could mean avoiding further iron infusions for a while or potentially suggesting ways to reduce excess iron if necessary.

Iron Infusions and Specific Concerns

side effects from iron infusion - A medical professional administering an iron infusion to a male patient in a clinical setting

side effects from iron infusion – A medical professional administering an iron infusion to a male patient in a clinical setting

Iron infusions usually work well for most people, but it’s important to talk to your doctor about your health before getting one. Here are two areas that might need extra attention:

Allergies: Be Upfront

  • Tell your doctor about any allergies you have: This is especially important if you’ve had reactions to medicines in the past.
  • Test dose: If you have allergies, your doctor might give you a tiny bit of the iron medicine first to make sure you’re okay.
  • Other options: If your allergies are bad, there might be different ways to get your iron levels up.

Blood Pressure: Keep an Eye On It

  • Drops can happen: Iron infusions can sometimes make your blood pressure drop for a little while. This might be a problem if you already have low blood pressure.
  • They’ll be watching: Your doctor or nurse will check your blood pressure often during and after your infusion.
  • Making changes: If your blood pressure gets too low, they might slow down your infusion or change some of your other medicines.

Other Potential Concerns:

Your doctor is there to help figure out the best treatment for you! Let them know about any other health problems you have so they can decide if an iron infusion is safe and what extra precautions might be needed.


How long will my iron infusion take? Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes it takes a few hours. It depends on how much iron you need. You might have to hang out at the doctor’s office for a bit afterward, just to be safe.

Does getting an iron infusion hurt? The needle might feel like a tiny ouch at first, but then it shouldn’t hurt much. Some people might feel a little uncomfortable, but it’s usually not bad.

Are iron infusions safe? Most of the time, yes! But sometimes they can cause side effects (we talked about those earlier).

How fast will I feel better? It might take a couple of weeks to feel stronger. Your doctor will check to make sure it’s working.

How many iron infusions will I need? It depends on how low your iron is. Sometimes you just need one, and sometimes you might need a few.

Are there other ways to get iron besides an infusion? Yes! Usually, your doctor will have you try iron pills first. If those don’t work well, there are other options, but infusions are pretty helpful.

What do I do to get ready for an iron infusion? Talk to your doctor about any health problems you have and any medicine you take. You can probably eat and drink like normal before you go.


Iron infusions offer a valuable solution for iron deficiency anemia. Understanding potential side effects from iron infusion is important for a positive treatment experience. Be aware of possible side effects (even if they’re usually mild) so you can be prepared. Communicate openly with your doctor to ensure a smooth and successful iron infusion treatment.