Iron infusion question

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Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 305
   Posted 6/29/2009 7:55 AM (GMT -6)   
As like alot of us Im fighting anemia all the time but now my hemoglobin is at 7.3 and my doc wants to start iron infusions tomorrow. Ive been taking oral iron 3x a day but apprearently its not helping. Has anyone had these iron infusions and what should I expect. Do most people tolerate them well?
Crohns 30 years. Ileostomy for 15 years. Symptom free for 14 years until 10 months ago. Was on Remicade but just recently switched to Humira because remicade stopped working, B-12 injections and iron.
God Bless. Tony

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/29/2009 9:45 AM (GMT -6)   
I have had CD for 15 years, and 6 surgeries.  Like you I struggle with anemia.  I have been having iron infusions for years.
You have nothing to worry about, its not a big deal at all.  I used to have to have them 3 times a week, which was very tiring as I was working at that time, and would have to go during my lunch hour. 
Now, unfortunately, I am unable to work, but I don't have to have the infusions as frequently.  Now, I typically need to have one every other week.  The infusions last approximately 1 hour.  Some advice that I have:
 - Make sure that you hydrate yourself pretty good prior to the infusion so that they will be able to start the IV with more ease.  This is always an issue with me as I have tiny veins that tend to blow, or the nurse will think that the vein is bigger than it is, and when she attempts to start the IV, the needle won't "thread", or the vein will "roll" and I end up being poked a few times.  But I have been told, and I know that it does help, that if I drink a lot of water prior to the infusion, it is easier to start an IV.
 - Try to eat something before or during the infusion.  I have found that if I have the infusion on an empty stomach, I will get a bad headache.  Also, I have been told that I can take a Tylenol prior to the infusion to prevent the headaches as well, as that is one of the known side effects.
Also, you mentioned that your hemoglobin count was at 7.3.  My doctor always orders a blood transfusion (of at least 2 units of "Packed Red Blood Cells (Packed RBC)") whenever my hemoglobin drops below 8.0.  Has your doctor mentioned a blood transfusion at all?
In addision, I used to take a prescription iron supplement called "Repliva"; however, the manufacturer has stopped producing this product; however, there is another product called "Pruvate", which is essentially the same as Repliva.  Have you tried either of these?  I have found that the OTC iron supplements are too rough on my system, but I am able to tolerate these prescription iron supplements with no problem.
Good luck with your iron infusions!  Don't worry, they are a piece of cake!
Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Rider Fan
Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 1445
   Posted 6/29/2009 10:17 AM (GMT -6)   
I concur about the transfusion.  Are you not really tired at 7.3?  No way could I work every day at that level.
Ashley, do you know what kind of iron you got and what dose?
32 y/o male. Dx'ed in 1999. No surgeries.

Current meds: Humira 2/27/09. 5mg prednisone. Udo's Choice Probiotics (30 billion). Proferrin iron pills.

Tried SCD, didn't work, now avoiding gluten and dairy.

Go Saskatchewan Roughriders!

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 6/29/2009 1:47 PM (GMT -6)   
I had one myself. I agree that it is important to drink alot of water beforehand as it helps them get the IV in. I went in about 9 am and left about 3 pm. It took a long time for me because they had to do a test dose first and see how I reacted, then they did the infusion. Because me veins are so small they had to run the IV slower. I felt the effects of the infusion in about 3 weeks. Think its getting to be time that I get another as I feel the fatigue returning. Good luck!
Gail*Nanners* Co-Moderator for Crohns Disease and Anxiety/Panic Forum
Been living with Crohn's Disease for 33 years. Currently on Asacol, Prilosec, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain, Zofran, Phenergan, Probiotics, Calcium  w/Vit D, and Xanax as needed for my anxiety.  Resections in 2002 and 2005. Also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Anxiety. Currently my Crohns is in remission, but my joints are going crazy!
*Every tomorrow has two handles.  We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith"*

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 733
   Posted 6/29/2009 2:59 PM (GMT -6)   
It's been a few years since my iron infusions, but I liked it so much I've asked doctors for them since but to no avail.

I know Nanners and others took a while to "feel" the infusion, but I felt better almost the same day. My energy went from being in the toilet to being able and willing to clean the house and function within no time.

I hope the iron works wonders for you!
27f, dx'd CD July '05 after 6 fistula/abscess surgeries
Remicade '05 through '08, with no other maintenance meds (ah, those were the days, eh?)
Tried Humira. Failed. Tried Gluten Free. Leaning towards Failure there too.
Currently on:
Cimzia (started 2-12-09) Again, not helping much, if at all.
Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes, Forvia vitamins, and calcium chewies
Feeling a bit jaded lately, but trying to keep my chin up.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 4054
   Posted 6/29/2009 6:06 PM (GMT -6)   
My iron infusion took 4-5 hours. Like Nanners, they did a test dose first. I don't know why for some people it is only an hour. I had the infusions twice. It seemed to help me in about 2-3 weeks. If if become anemic, I would definitely do it again. I can't tolerate oral iron. Good Luck.
50 yr. old female, diagnosed with Crohn's in small intestine and terminal ileum Sept-Oct. 2007. Also have IBS, and had Salmonella Dec. '07
currently taking Pentasa- 4 500mg pills per day, Metamucil and colace for constipation

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 305
   Posted 6/29/2009 6:56 PM (GMT -6)   
I can tell Im not up to par but like today I drove to St. Louis and back ( 10 hours) and I dont really feel rundown but I know I'm not what I used to be energywise. I'd almost rather have the blood tranfusion because the effect is so much faster. My iron took a dive right after I got this abscess. It still drains quite a bit and I think its depleting my iron.
Crohns 30 years. Ileostomy for 15 years. Symptom free for 14 years until 10 months ago. Was on Remicade but just recently switched to Humira because remicade stopped working, B-12 injections and iron.
God Bless. Tony

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 674
   Posted 6/29/2009 7:31 PM (GMT -6)   
I had Iron Infusions. I THINK my GI said my iron levels were a 3 out of I dont know how many...but he said the lowest he's ever seen.  I did 4 infusions 1 a week for 4 weeks. They took about an hour. Simple and easy, just a pain because I had to go to a city hospital to get them done.  The infusion itself was cake, I just got hooked up to an IV watched TV and ate a turkey sandwhich each time.
Dianogsed with Crohns: At 16 years old. 22 years old now.
Surgeries:2 Bowel Resections, Gallbladder Removed.
Current Meds: Imuran 50mg, Vitamin B12 (injection), D, and C tablets. Fish Oil Tablets, Cats Claw, Slippery Elm, and Reishi.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 656
   Posted 6/29/2009 11:24 PM (GMT -6)   
I had iron (Ferlecit) infusions once a week for 32 weeks. They eventually had the effect of "jump starting" my iron production, and I haven't been anemic since. I actually miss getting them: an hour and a half of enforced inactivity or reading--or, even better, conversation with the oncology patients getting their chemo. They were so much sicker and braver and funnier than me that it helped me put my Crohn's in perspective. There were two very affectionate chocolate labrador retrievers in the office, too, who'd steal your seat if you left (dragging your IV) to use the bathroom. The iron infusions helped, in the long run. As long as they do it in small doses over time, you're in very little danger of anaphylactic shock (once they've tested you). And everybody's right--if you're dehydrated they may have a hard time finding a good vein. I wish someone had told me to hydrate myself before I went!

Good luck with the infusions. I hope they go well for you.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 305
   Posted 6/30/2009 12:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Just had my first infusion this morning. It was uneventful. It took about 2 hours and I go back Friday for #2 out of five. Thanks for your responses. Tony
Crohns 30 years. Ileostomy for 15 years. Symptom free for 14 years until 10 months ago. Was on Remicade but just recently switched to Humira because remicade stopped working, B-12 injections and iron.
God Bless. Tony

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 7/1/2009 7:39 AM (GMT -6)   

I agree with all.  It's a very easy process to go through as long as you are hydrated before they start. I also have very thin and rolling veins. The nurses would sometimes wrap my arms in warm towels to help the veins expand. I had several rounds of infusions earlier this year (5 infusions over two weeks). I was a little sensitive to the iron,so they ran the IV slower and it took about 1 1/2 hours. Not bad.  I would feel better within a couple of days.

Good luck! and feel better.


a/k/a Laurie. Living with Crohns since 1968. Too many surgeries to count. Total colectomy with ileostomy. Took Imuran for many years, but recent flares have required biologics. Short bowel syndrome diag. 11/08 after 3rd (and last) resection.
Current meds:
Hydrocodone (PRN)
B12 injections monthly
TPN 12 hrs. daily
Iron infusions
Tincture of Opium
Donnatol (PRN)
Calcium, Vitamin D supplements

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 305
   Posted 7/1/2009 8:52 AM (GMT -6)   
everybody keeps talking about their veins. I have large veins that nurses love. No problems here for sure.
Crohns 30 years. Ileostomy for 15 years. Symptom free for 14 years until 10 months ago. Was on Remicade but just recently switched to Humira because remicade stopped working, B-12 injections and iron.
God Bless. Tony

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 83
   Posted 7/6/2009 6:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I just started infusions a couple of weeks ago. Had a horrible allergic reaction to the first one (broke out in hives, became flushed, pain in my lower back, and throat constriction). Now they dose me up with IV Benadryl before giving me the iron. I've had 3 so far and it's increasing my hemoglobin but I'm still waiting for all the extra energy to come with it.
**Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2001; diagnosis changed to Crohn's disease in 2009 (but still only impacts colon)
**Asacol (4800 mg daily), 6-MP (100 mg daily -- recently switched from Imuran), Prednisone (8 mg daily...for a few more weeks), Flagyl (250 mg every other day), Nexium (40 mg daily)
GOAL of one day being immunosuppressant free...still working on my doctor on this one but I am a world traveler who desperately wants to go to Africa one day!

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