What is IV Hydration?
IV or intravenous hydration is a method to replace lost fluids in the body. IV hydration is recommended when an individual is significantly dehydrated and unable to rehydrate orally. Diarrhea, vomiting, and fever are some of the common conditions that can cause an individual to become dehydrated quickly. Overexertion can also lead to dehydration requiring attention.
The IV hydration process involves the infusion of fluids and electrolytes into the patient’s bloodstream directly via a tube attached to a needle inserted into a vein.
Purpose and Mechanism of IV Hydration
IV hydration is generally employed to restore fluid and electrolyte balance in individuals with dehydration due to illness, accident, or surgery. Electrolytes are mineral salts that are essential for maintaining the body’s water balance and nerve impulse activity. Some essential electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and bicarbonate. Electrolytes become ions when mixed with fluids in the blood and body and are capable of conducting electricity. Electrolytes are utilized by the body to transmit electrical impulses from cell to cell and are important for normal cell functioning. Dehydration interferes with the normal functioning of the body, and therefore IV restoration of fluids and electrolytes is the fastest way to regain balance.
Indications for IV Hydration
IV hydration is indicated for patients suffering from dehydration who may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Significant thirst
- Dry mouth, lips, and tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sudden weight loss
- Warm and dry skin
- Decreased urine output
- Wrinkled skin
- Fast pulse
Procedure for IV Hydration
IV hydration is a simple procedure that is carried out in a medical office or clinic setting and usually takes from 20 to 60 minutes. The type of hydration required depends upon your age, existing medical conditions, and severity of the dehydration. In general, the procedure involves the following:
- You will be asked to sit or lie down.
- A qualified nurse will locate the site of infusion, which is usually your arm.
- The skin around the area of the injection site is cleaned and disinfected to facilitate the insertion of the IV catheter needle.
- Your nurse carefully accesses a vein and inserts an IV catheter, securing it with tape to prevent it from getting dislodged.
- An IV line is then attached to the IV catheter. The IV line consists of a tube with a needle on one end and at the other end is the bag of fluid.
- Your nurse then sets the rate and amount of infusion to be dispensed and monitors it from time to time to ensure proper administration of fluids.
- Once infusion is complete, the IV catheter is removed and a small bandage is applied over the injection site.
Risks and Complications of IV Hydration
IV hydration is a relatively safe procedure; however, a few risks may be associated with it including:
- Infection at the injection site
- Bruising and swelling
- Burning and stinging sensation
- Vein collapse
- Nutrient imbalance
- Extravasation (leakage of IV fluids from a blood vessel into the tissues around the injection site)