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What Are the Different Types of Intravenous Drugs?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Intravenous (IV) drugs generally are medicines administered through a blood vessel, typically for sedation or anesthesia. Steroids are sometimes used as intravenous drugs to reduce inflammation and swelling caused by certain medical conditions. Some patients who are unable to take oral medication may be given antibiotics intravenously. Certain intravenous drugs are given to patients who suffer from seizures. These anti-seizure medications are commonly referred to as anticonvulsants and may include pregabalin, valproic acid or lamotrigene.

Cancer patients will often be given high doses of chemotherapy to kill cancerous cells within the body. Intravenous drugs, such as Taxol®, are used in chemotherapy treatment. This form of intravenous therapy may help destroy cancer cells actively reproducing inside the body.

Many patients who suffer from an ongoing illness that causes chronic or widespread pain will rely on intravenous drugs for pain management. Pain-killing narcotics may be given through an IV injection. One common pain-killing drug often administered through the circulatory system via an IV line is morphine. There is a potential for drug addiction among individuals given morphine, so careful dosing is crucial.

Many types of antibiotics are used as intravenous drugs, including penicillin. This may be used to treat patients with staphylococcus or streptococcus infections, as well as other bacterial infections. Other antibiotics that may be given intravenously include cefalexin and erythromycin. Antibiotics will only destroy bacteria and are not used to treat viral infections.

In certain cases of very severe viral infections, such as elderly or chronically ill influenza patients, intravenous drugs may be administered. The type of intravenous drugs used to destroy viruses are known as antiviral medications. For patients who are severely ill and too weakened to take this medication orally, an IV solution may be administered.

Women in labor may be given what is commonly referred to as an epidural. This analgesic, or pain killer, may be administered by injection, using a needle and catheter. Intravenous fluids are often given to the patient prior to receiving this procedure. Other IV medications may be given during labor in addition to the epidural.

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Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Oct 14, 2014

Surgery patients get pain medication in an IV. They usually have a button they can press when they want/need more medication. The button releases another dose of medication.

My husband had that when he was in the hospital for severe kidney stones. He'd had the ultrasonic surgery and he was hurting. He was hitting that button about every five minutes. Of course, he couldn't get medication that often, but it made him feel better to push the button, and I told him he was getting medication, and it had enough of a placebo effect to make him feel better, so that was a good thing.

By Scrbblchick — On Oct 13, 2014

Usually, when someone is on IV antibiotics, they have a pretty serious infection, and the IV meds have to be given to counteract the infection. My mom had what her doctor termed a "raging" kidney infection and she had to have IV antibiotics. She was given some high-powered meds.

You have to be careful with those, though. The meds she got gave her muscle spasms in her neck and she also had some confusion and anxiety that might have been due in part to the antibiotics.

I'm glad IV antibiotics are available, though. Sometimes, that's the only way to effectively fight an infection.

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