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What is IV Infusion?

By Lucinda Reynolds
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An IV infusion is a way of delivering medications or fluids directly into the body through a vein. A small hollow tube or catheter is inserted into a vein and left in place. This catheter can be connected to a long piece of plastic hollow tubing that leads to an IV bag. The IV bag will contain fluids or other medications as prescribed by a doctor.

The most common sites for intravenous access are the veins in the hands or the arms. The veins in the feet are a common intravenous site for babies. Sometimes medical professionals may need to insert a special IV line in a patient's neck, upper chest, or in the upper arm area. This may be done if an individual has poor looking veins in the hands and arms or if an IV infusion must be given for an extended period of time.

Intravenous infusions are usually delivered through a device called an infusion pump. The infusion pump is attached to an IV pole and the IV tubing is threaded through the infusion pump. The pump is then programmed by the nurse or other specially trained health care personnel to deliver the fluid or medication over a specific period of time. The rate for a fluid infusion is determined by the doctor. The medication infusion rate is determined by the medication manufacturer.

There are many types of medications and fluids that can be administered intravenously. If an individual is ill and dehydrated, the doctor will usually order specific fluids to be given through the vein for quick re-hydration. One of the most common fluids used for this purpose is 0.9 percent normal saline. This type of IV infusion is used because it is similar to the body's normal fluid.

Other types of medications and fluids that may be given intravenously include antibiotics and medications to control heart rate and blood pressure. Blood, blood products, and chemotherapy medications are also given through an IV infusion. These types of infusions are usually given in a health care setting where the results can be monitored. Occasionally intravenous antibiotics can be administered at home.

IV therapy is not without risks. An individual can develop an infection at the IV insertion site. He can also experience swelling, irritation and sometimes tissue damage if the medication being delivered leaks outside the vein. Occasionally, an individual may develop a blood clot in the above the IV infusion site. These complications are all cause for concern and should be treated by a doctor.

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Discussion Comments
By anon262961 — On Apr 22, 2012

I am having an IV fusion because my ferratin is 8 and should be 50. I am having it done on three consecutive days. I've yet to hear of it that close together. Is this common?

By ddljohn — On Oct 16, 2011

@turquoise-- I had IV iron infusions last year. It was fine, not painful or anything. They add iron to a saline IV and administer that. The first couple of infusions did last for a really long time though, between 4-6 hours. It has to be that way for iron infusions though because there is a risk of anaphylactic shock.

So they only give a very small amount of iron the first couple of infusions to see how your body reacts to it. If there is no negative reaction, then they give the rest of the iron.

I went for 8 weeks last year, also once a week like you will be. Take some things with you to occupy yourself during the infusion, like book, your laptop or something. The hospital I went to would give me snacks while I was there but you might want to take some as well.

By turquoise — On Oct 16, 2011

Hi, I want to ask about IV iron infusions. My iron count is really low and my doctor said that I might need to start infusions to bring it up.

I've never had this done before and don't know what to expect. Can anyone who's had it share there experiences?

My doctor said that I will get an infusion once a week for about 6 weeks and that each infusion generally lasts for a couple of hours.

By serenesurface — On Oct 15, 2011

I received an IV infusion last week at the hospital. I had a bad case of food poisoning and had to be taken to the hospital because of vomiting, nausea, headache and dizziness. They put me on an IV right away to re-hydrate me and also added antibiotics to the IV to help kill any bacteria.

The nurse tried to insert the IV in my arm but couldn't find a good vein. So she ended up inserting it in my hand where a large vein was visible. Surprisingly, it really didn't hurt, it bled a little while she inserted the needle, but it was over with in a couple of seconds.

The insertion was interesting because after the end of the IV entered my vein, she pulled back the needle leaving a little plastic piece in my vein where the IV would enter the blood stream. So I didn't have to sit there with a needle in my hand.

The IV took more than an hour to finish though and I laid at the hospital during that time. After 20 minutes of receiving the IV, I felt so much better. I stopped vomiting, the nausea and dizziness ended. I also felt more energetic. It was truly great to get better so fast.

After the IV ended, I went home and everything was fine. The doctor prescribed me some antibiotic tablets for the next few days to make sure the bacteria was gone and that's it.

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