5 Reasons You Might Need an IV

5 Reasons You Might Need an IV

Intravenous (IV) therapy is a common procedure, with over 90% of hospitalized patients receiving an IV as a part of care. IV therapy is the delivery of fluids, blood, or medication directly into a patient’s system through the veins—making IV therapy incredibly effective for patients with a need for rapid delivery of drugs or other IV fluids.

Learn more about IVs by reading 10 Commonly Asked IV Therapy Questions

Several reasons you may need an IV include:

Dehydration
Surgery
Malnutrition or nutrient replacement
Medication Administration
Emergency
Situations

IV Therapy for Dehydration

Roughly 60% of the human body consists of water. We routinely lose water when we breathe, sweat, urinate, or physically exert ourselves. Factors like spending time outdoors, high temperatures, drinking alcohol, or playing sports cause us to lose more water, increasing the risk of dehydration.

Symptoms of Dehydration

The first and most easily felt symptom of dehydration is thirst. If dehydration continues without countermeasures, the body begins to compensate for the loss of fluid by increasing heart rate and blood pressure to maintain adequate blood flow to organs.

Common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • A dry or sticky mouth
  • Decreased or no urine output
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Concentrated, dark colored urine
  • Skin that doesn’t bounce back quickly when pinched
  • Headache

More severe symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure

Getting an IV for dehydration is the fastest and most efficient way to replace fluids in the body, though not everyone who is dehydrated needs to seek medical treatment for an IV.

Healthcare providers typically use IV therapy to treat someone in the advanced stages of dehydration who needs fluids replaced immediately, like patients who are fainting or experiencing symptoms of heat stroke.

It may take up to an hour for your body to process a liter of water through the bloodstream whereas an IV catheter will deliver fluid directly in the vein immediately.

Having an IV During Surgery

Every year, millions of healthcare providers perform inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures, and intravenous (IV) therapy is a key component to surgical procedures. Doctors and nurses use IV therapy to administer anesthesia, pain medications, antibiotics, fluids, and other vital fluids.

During surgery, having an IV in place allows providers to deliver emergency drugs quickly and efficiently when they are needed. IV fluids help maintain a patient’s hydration, electrolyte and blood sugar levels while undergoing surgical procedures. Clinicians are also able to administer warmed IV fluids directly into a patient’s bloodstream, as it is common for a patient’s body temperature to decrease slowly while he or she is sedated. Anesthesia personnel utilize the IV to infuse needed drugs to keep the patient asleep and safe during the procedure.

IV Therapy for Malnutrition

Partial parenteral nutrition and Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) are methods of feeding that supplies some or all of a patient’s daily nutritional requirements through an IV. Parenteral nutrition can help patients who are unable to meet their nutritional requirements through oral intake alone, this includes patients that do not have a properly functioning gastrointestinal tract or have disorders requiring total bowel rest including short bowel syndrome or severe Crohn’s disease. Patients who are severely impacted by eating disorders, or patients who suffer from dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, may also experience malnutrition.

Medication Administration Through IV Therapy

Most times, patient’s medications can be taken by mouth or topically. In some situations, the best or only route is through the vein. IV administration would be the preferred route for many chemotherapy regimens, blood/blood product transfusions, antibiotic/antifungal therapy requiring more potent agents than can be given orally, etc. These infusions can take place inside a hospital, in an outpatient setting or in the home.

IV Therapy for Emergency Medication

In emergency situations the immediate administering of IV therapy is necessary to combat patient’s dire conditions. Some situations in which a patient may receive emergency medication, blood or fluids through intravenous therapy include:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Trauma
  • Excessive bleeding or loss of fluids
  • Overdose
  • Poisoning
  • Anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction
  • Sedation to administer emergency treatment
References

WHO:
https://www.who.int/selection_medicines/country_lists/kir_emergency_2007.pdf?ua=1
Accepted but Unacceptable: Peripheral IV Catheter Failure –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25871866/
The Effect of Routine Maintenance Intravenous Therapy on Hemoglobin Concentration and Hematocrit During Anesthesia in Adults – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4779169/
IV Fluids, IV Tubing, and Assessment of an IV System –
https://opentextbc.ca/clinicalskills/chapter/8-2-types-of-iv-therapy/
Guideline for acute therapy and management of anaphylaxis Allergo journal international.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s40629-014-0009-1
The Management of Acute Diarrhea in Children: Oral Rehydration, Maintenance, and Nutritional Therapy
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00018677.htm