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What is IV therapy? What It Is and Why You Might Need It

IV therapy, also known as intravenous therapy, involves the infusion of fluids, nutrients, and medications directly into your bloodstream through an IV line that's inserted into one of your veins in your arm or hand. Intravenous injections are generally reserved for emergency cases when traditional treatment methods aren't effective.

However, IV therapy can be used to treat chronic conditions such as dehydration, exhaustion, and insufficient nutrient intake. If you suspect you may need IV therapy at some point in the future, here's what you should know about the procedure and why it could be helpful to your health and well-being.

Intravenous Therapy Procedure

Intravenous therapy (IV) is a form of treatment in which liquid substances are administered directly into your bloodstream.

One of its most common uses is to deliver medications in cases where it's too difficult for your body to absorb them through oral means. IVs can also be used during surgeries and for more experimental purposes, such as delivering nutrients to accelerate tissue repair.

There are several types of IV therapy that vary based on factors like what you're being given or how quickly you want to receive it.

Vitamin Infusion

Getting vitamins intravenously isn't a treatment for an illness but rather a way to deliver nutrients directly into your bloodstream. If you struggle with digestive issues or cannot get nutrients from your food (even though you eat healthily), IV therapy might be worth trying.

If someone has a digestive problem and can't absorb nutrients properly, they must take B-complex vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C regularly to keep their body functioning correctly.

Since these essential vitamins can be administered through an IV drip, it could help prevent deficiencies.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Vitamin IV Therapy?

Pros

  • Vitamin IV solutions can be customized depending on one's needs.
  • It is a guarantee that you remain hydrated.
  • Vitamin IV therapy is fast-acting.
  • The therapy slows down the aging process.
  • This treatment is the most bioavailable supplement type.

Cons

  • It can be dangerous if improperly administered.
  • Not all vitamin therapies are the same.
  • There is a higher risk of immediate adverse reaction.
  • Some vitamin IV therapies may be placebo.

Vitamin C Benefits

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that acts as an antioxidant in your body. An antioxidant is a substance that helps remove free radicals from your body — substances linked to cancer, aging, and inflammation.

Some of the other well-known benefits of Vitamin C include:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Prevents iron deficiency
  • Reduces blood uric acid levels
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps manage high blood pressure

The Uses Of IV Fluids For Dehydration

Dehydration is a common reason for IV therapy since it's hard to rehydrate your body quickly on your own. If you have low blood pressure or feel dizzy and disoriented, IV fluids are used in an attempt to stabilize your vitals before you can fully rehydrate.

Doctors will usually recommend a prescription along with an IV; typically, patients need a saline bag along with oral doses of rehydration salts or glucose. Oral hydration is used once you're able to drink again; it typically takes four hours to completely absorb fluids through your intestines—sometimes longer if you take supplements that block water absorption.

This can result in dehydration on top of dehydration if not treated quickly, so IV fluids are very beneficial in these cases.

IV Fluids Types

Crystalloid solutions

These contain sugars, salts, proteins, or other nutrients in the water. They provide hydration and some energy to your body. They are typically used after blood transfusions or to help with dehydration. These solutions include lactated Ringer's solution (LR), isotonic saline, Ringer's acetate solution (RAS), D5W (Dextrose 5%), D10W (Dextrose 10%), or Normosol-MTM Solution.

Colloids

Colloid solutions are typically used to deliver medicine or nutrients directly into your bloodstream without passing through your stomach.

They can be delivered subcutaneously (underneath your skin) through needle injection or infused via an IV line in a hospital. The two types most often used in therapy include plasma protein fraction (PPF) and dextran-70.

How Does IV Therapy Improve Body Immunity?

In patients with a poorly functioning immune system, platelets may become defective, meaning they cannot do their job effectively. This can lead to excessive bleeding (such as heavy menstrual flow or nosebleeds) or bruising.

To improve immunity through IV therapy, blood transfusions replace low platelets with healthy ones. The blood must be fresh (less than one week old) since antibodies begin to develop after only a few days in storage.

Some hospitals also offer autologous transfusion—the patient's blood is collected and stored before it is replaced with new, healthy cells via IV therapy.

FAQs

How Do You Prepare For IV Therapy?

Know what to expect. Going in, you'll want to know what kind of needles (if any) will be used. After that, patients are typically asked to change into a hospital gown and lay down on an exam table while they're hooked up to an IV pole with tubing attached.

The setup can take anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours, depending on what type of treatment is administered. Before proceeding, patients are also advised not to eat or drink anything—other than water—for at least four hours prior since those substances can negatively affect outcomes. A mild sedative may also be given ahead of time so that patients aren't uncomfortable while their veins are accessed.

How Much Does an IV Therapy Infusion Cost?

The prices vary from clinic to clinic, but on average, an IV therapy infusion can cost anywhere from $75-$250 per session.

Some insurance companies cover some of these costs, so be sure to check with your provider before paying out of pocket. If you have questions about your coverage or think you may need additional treatments in a particular month, many places will offer discounted packages (buy four sessions, get one free).

Finally, there are also specific products that some facilities require patients to purchase when receiving specific infusions; often, they come in around $50 - $100 each.

How Long Does IV Therapy Stay In Your System?

Just like other methods of administering medication, such as oral (or by mouth) or inhalation, intravenous therapy has a set amount of time it stays in your system. This period depends on when you administered your IV treatment and what was contained.

For example, if you received an IV drip for hydration purposes only—and nothing else—the process will likely be out of your system within eight hours after receiving it.

However, if you received a vitamin IV drip to help boost your immune system's functioning, it could be as long as 48 hours before all traces are gone from your body.