IV therapy is a delivery method for fluids and medication. “IV” stands for intravenous, which means it’s administered through the veins. The fluid that contains vitamins and minerals or medication is delivered via an IV drip or injection into the vein, which allows the therapy to move quickly through your bloodstream.
IV therapies are administered by a healthcare professional, usually a nurse, for a variety of different reasons, from dehydration to medical emergencies. IV therapy can also help address symptoms related to conditions like the cold, the flu, morning sickness and hangovers.
- Hangover Relief
- Athletic Performance Recovery
- Immune System Support
- Cold and Flu Relief
- Pregnancy symptom alleviation
- Migraine and Headache relief
- Fastest way possible to get essential nutrients into your body
- Can help treat certain conditions
- Promotes better cardiovascular health
- Provides your body with natural energy
- An effective way to get immune-boosting antioxidants
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- One of the best ways to alleviate a hangover
- Helps accelerate the wound healing process
- Lessens the sign of aging
- A small risk of infection
- Bruising, redness or itching around the injection site can occur
- It can hurt a little
- Nurses place a small, thin plastic tube called a catheter directly into your vein. In order to place the catheter, we use a numbing spray to help minimize any discomfort
- Once our nurse accesses your vein, we remove the needle.
- The catheter remains inside you deliver your IV infusion.
- The catheter is attached to a bag, which contains your selected drip!
What’s in an IV Formula?
There are a wide range of prepared sterile fluids which can be given via drip, and there are medical indications for choosing which one is best on an individual basis. The most common simple rehydration fluid is ‘normal saline’, a 0.9% solution of sodium chloride (salt) which is isotonic, meaning that it should allow the body to maintain a normal balance between the fluids within the cells and tissues.
When someone in the hospital requires IV fluids, they should get regular blood tests to monitor their kidney function and make sure the fine balance of electrolytes – the essential salts and minerals in the blood – stays within a healthy range. Different formulations of IV fluids can be chosen to maintain this balance – ‘Ringer’s’ or ‘Hartmann’s’ solution is a sterile liquid which contains small amounts of sodium, potassium, and calcium salts and is commonly given for fluid and electrolyte replacement.
Some medications come in a sterile injectable form either as a liquid or a powder that needs to be dissolved in a sterile liquid. Some can then be given neat (undiluted) or need to be diluted into a bag of fluid and given as a drip.
Blood transfusions are given via an IV line and may take the form of red cells, plasma, platelets, albumin or other components of blood.
Total Parenteral Nutrition
Some people require nutritional input which totally bypasses the digestive system. This can be for a variety of reasons and may be either short- or long-term. Sterile liquid ‘feed’ is available, known as total parenteral nutrition, or TPN. This contains a mixture of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins carbohydrates and fats.
Types of IV Therapy
IV treatments can be given as a drip, continuous infusion or a bolus (‘push’), depending on the type of treatment. Lots of different medications can be given intravenously.
Some medications can be given as a ‘push’ or bolus. If they’re given through an existing IV cannula, it should be cleaned with antiseptic wipes designed specifically for that purpose, and flushed, usually with normal saline, before and after administration. This ensures that the line is clean and patent, so that the medication is able to go all the way through the tube and into the vein.
An IV drip traditionally refers to a fluid infusion of a set amount and duration. We call it a drip because there is a chamber at the top of the line where fluid drips through, and we can measure the drip rate to monitor the speed of administration. IV infusions which require a specific set rate more commonly go through an IV administration pump, which can be programmed to deliver a certain amount over a set period of time.
Both fluids and medications can be delivered by drip, and some medications need to be diluted in specific sterile fluids before they can be given.
Some medications need to be continuously infused at a certain rate without a set endpoint. These should go through an infusion pump or a programmable syringe driver for accurate administration. Some continuous infusions can have a short gap while fresh medications are set up. Other medications need to be continuously infused without any break, and medical staff may need to ensure you have multiple points of IV access; this is to allow for a rapid changeover, and in case one IV cannula fails.
Types of IV Access
The locations and types of access points vary depending on the type of medication needed, the expected duration of treatment, and the individual. Some people have more difficult-to-access veins than others. Sometimes, ultrasound scans are used to help find a suitable vein. Occasionally, IV access may need to be gained in an operating theatre setting.
Peripheral Venous Cannula
An intravenous cannula is most commonly located in a vein in the hand or forearm, or occasionally the foot. This is known as a peripheral venous cannula, as it is in a peripheral vein; smaller and further from the heart. These types of cannulae are usually only kept in for up to around three days, and so other options may be considered for people who require longer-term IV therapy.
A longer-term option for intravenous treatment is a midline – these can stay in much longer than standard peripheral IV lines.
Central Venous Catheter
A central venous catheter (CVC), also known as a ‘central line’ is an IV line inserted into a much bigger central blood vessel. These can stay in longer than standard peripheral lines and therefore are often used when people need to have repeated IV therapy over a longer period of time, such as in some chemotherapy treatments, or in certain conditions where long-term IV antibiotic therapies are expected.
Central lines can also be used when access to peripheral veins is impossible. They can have multiple access lines within a single device so different medications can be administered simultaneously.
Central lines are also often used for administering medications that are likely to cause damage to smaller veins – the greater lumen and amount of blood pumping through big blood vessels means that there is a much lower concentration of the medication within a single vessel and reduces the risk of irritation and leakage.
Another type of central line is called a peripherally-inserted central catheter (PICC) line – this is a long line so the port is usually situated on the upper arm, but the medications administered still go into the large central vein.
Central lines can be used to take blood samples as well as deliver treatment.
Hydrate- The minerals and vitamins infused via IV are dehydrating at the cellular level and your body will be more responsive if you are hydrated prior to starting the IV. Also, if you are low on fluids the veins in your arms will be smaller and they tend to hide on us when we are looking for the best site to start your IV. Your response to the IV and finding a vein will be improved by drinking a few glasses of water before your appointment.
Eat- Make sure protein is part of the meal/snack. Some of the vitamins and minerals can cause nausea if infused on an empty stomach.
Relax and breathe- Once you are seated in the recliner chair waiting for your IV to begin, take a few minutes to relax. Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths in and out. Count slowly to 5 on the inhale and exhale. This will help release any nervous tension and prepare you for your treatment.
Wear comfortable clothes- There is no need to dress up for your IV
- In the days that follow the session, check the injection site for bruising or swelling.
- If there happens to be bruising or swelling, either put a cold pack on the site or get a thin cloth, put it on your skin, and place ice on the cloth.
-Shower or bathe as you normally would.
-As you do your regular activities, be mindful of the injection site for a day or two. Try to prevent it from having rough contact with anything.
While IV medication use is generally safe, it can cause both mild and dangerous side effects. Medications given intravenously act on your body very quickly, so side effects, allergic reactions, and other effects can happen fast.
- Damage to veins and injection site
- Air embolism
- Blood clots
How long does it take?
The whole process will take 30-45 minutes to complete. There are a few forms to complete prior to your infusion as well as a quick medical assessment.
Does it hurt?
Everyone’s pain tolerance is different, but we strive to stick everyone just once with our experienced Registered Nurses. That said, we do offer lidocaine and a numbing spray if you would like!
How often should I get IV?
The frequency of IV therapy is determined on a patient by patient basis. We take a customized approach to suit your individual needs. For preventative health and wellness, we recommend two IV drips per month to help balance out any vitamin deficiencies