An IV is placed by a piercing in the vein with an IV needle. Once the needle enters the vein, the healthcare professional withdraws the needle leaving a catheter, or thin, flexible tube, within the vein. The IV is then secured with tape to prevent accidental removal. IV therapy includes the placement of an IV for fluids, medications, electrolytes, and blood products under a provider’s order to treat a specific condition.
In emergencies, IV hydration can be lifesaving for patients with hypovolemia (fluid or blood loss). More commonly, fluid replacement and electrolyte balance can be restored with the proper selection of IV fluids. Efficacy can be determined by stabilizing vital signs and lab values.
There are risks with all medical interventions. Typically, the chances of IV hydration are small. IV therapy is ordered in a hospital setting due to medical necessity, where the benefits are believed to outweigh the potential risks.
The most common potential risks of IV therapy include the following:
- Fluid overload (too much fluid)
- Phlebitis (inflammation of the vein)
- Infiltration (IV fluid leaking outside of the vein into soft tissue)
- Extravasation (IV fluid leaking outside of the vein into soft tissue, causing irritation)
There is an increasing trend where IV hydration has become an elective treatment. This service is being offered in select medical spas and drip bars. Some businesses travel to you. The IV solutions include a cocktail of vitamins and electrolytes. Some consumers swear by the benefits of a brighter mood and youthful skin. These services are costly and not covered by insurance. Further, the medical necessity is questionable.
Eat a balanced diet of plant-based whole foods. Avoid overconsumption of saturated fats. Consult with your doctor before electing IV hydration or taking any other supplements. Consume the proper amount of water based on weight, age, activity level, and medical condition. If you never need emergency IV therapy, consider yourself fortunate.
Ismail, M. T., & Elbaih, A. H. (2020). Principles of intravenous fluids therapy. EC Emerg Med Critical Care, 4(6), 24-46.
Shmerling, R. (2020). Drip bar: should you get an IV on demand? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/drip-bar-should-you-get-an-iv-on-demand-2018092814899