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What Is Iron Dextran?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Iron dextran is an injectible form of the mineral known as iron and may be prescribed for those who have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. In most cases, this medication is used when oral iron supplements cannot be taken or have not provided adequate results. Some of the most common side effects associated with the use of iron dextran include mild irritation at the injection site, headaches, and nausea. Occasionally, serious side effects such as seizures, irregular heartbeat, or allergic reactions may occur after injection with this medication. Any questions or concerns about the use of iron dextran in an individual situation or possible side effects of the injection should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

A medical condition known as iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body is unable to produce enough healthy red blood cells, often leading to symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and unusually cold hands and feet. Dietary changes or the use of oral iron supplements are able to successfully treat this condition in most people. If iron levels continue to remain too low, a doctor may prescribe iron dextran injections. Unlike some other types of injections, iron dextran is designed to be administered by a health care professional and is not approved for self-administration.

While most people are able to use iron dextran without experiencing any negative side effects, any new or bothersome symptoms that develop after receiving one of these injections should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. Mild redness, swelling, or stinging at the injection site is considered normal and usually lasts for only a few minutes or hours. Blistering, peeling skin, or increased pain and swelling are signs of potential complications and should be reported to a medical professional. Some of these side effects may not begin for several hours following the injection.

Mild to moderate nausea or headaches may occur when using this medication, but if these symptoms become severe, the patient should be evaluated by a doctor. Seizures, severe abdominal pain, or changes in mood or behavior should prompt a visit to the local emergency department in order to rule out any underlying health concerns. Signs of a potentially fatal type of allergic reaction to iron dextran, known as anaphylaxis, include difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat, and a partial or complete loss of consciousness. These symptoms can cause brain damage or death within a matter of minutes, so emergency medical services should be contacted immediately in order to ensure that treatment begins before the patient reaches the hospital.

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