what is iv therapy

What Is IV Therapy?

IV therapy is a delivery method for fluids and medication. “IV” stands for intravenous, which means the fluid is administered through the veins. The fluid that contains vitamins and minerals or medication is delivered via an IV drip or injection into the vein, which allows the therapy to move quickly through your bloodstream. Direct IV insertion typically delivers medication faster than oral administration. 

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IV therapies are administered by a healthcare professional, usually a nurse, for a variety of different reasons, from dehydration to medical emergencies. IV therapy can also help address symptoms related to conditions like the cold, the flu, morning sickness and hangovers. In this guide, we’ll discuss how IV therapy works, what its benefits are and how you can get started. 

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How Does IV Therapy Work?

IV therapy is a straightforward procedure. Regardless of the type of IV therapy you are receiving, you can expect a uniform process.

Generally, you will be seated somewhere comfortable for the duration of the therapy. The nurse will disinfect the injection site and place a needle directly in a vein. The IV will typically be placed in the arm, but it is possible to be placed elsewhere. The arm is a common insertion point primarily because it is easily accessible. Plus, the arm is a low-risk entry point compared to others like the neck or thigh, and the proximity to the heart helps medication can arrive faster. 

Once the IV is inserted, a manual or electronic pump will deliver the fluid into an IV bag. The nurse will check the pump to ensure the rate of delivery is correct. The fluid drips from the bag through the catheter and enters your body. Once inside your body, the fluid from the IV bag enters the bloodstream. 

During IV therapy, you need to keep still, so you do not disturb or dislodge the catheter. Aside from that, you can read, watch television, read a book or browse on your phone during the process. 

What Fluids and Vitamins Are in an IV Bag?

The fluids inside an IV bag depend on the type of therapy you are undergoing. Intravenous solutions can contain saline, vitamins, minerals and medication. Some common components of IV bags include:

  • Saline: Saline solution is usually the base ingredient of an IV bag. Saline, made up of water and sodium chloride, serves as a delivery system for the other components of your IV therapy. Saline also helps hydrate the body. 
  • Dextrose: Dextrose is a type of sugar. Unlike some of your favorite sweet desserts, this kind of sugar is good for you. In IV therapy, Dextrose helps normalize low levels of blood sugar. Because it a sugar, your body can also convert dextrose into energy. 
  • Lactated Ringer’s: If you are a fan of medical dramas, you have almost certainly heard the term “Lactated Ringer’s.” This IV solution contains water, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, sodium chloride and sodium lactate. Like saline solution, Lactated Ringer’s can deliver other ingredients. It is also commonly used during surgery and to treat dehydration. 
  • Vitamin B: Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-9 and B-12 are collectively known as vitamin B complex. Vitamin B complex directly contributes to important bodily functions, like your metabolism and nerve function. Vitamin B complex is often delivered via IV therapy for patients who have trouble naturally absorbing vitamins. 
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system function. If you are sick or feel like you are becoming sick, vitamin C can be a beneficial ingredient in your IV therapy. Vitamin C sustains the immune system’s pathogen response, helping it fight diseases and prevent them from onsetting.
  • Calcium: Your IV therapy may include calcium, which is a mineral that we need to build strong bones and teeth. We consume calcium in our diet through foods like dairy and green, leafy vegetables. Intravenous calcium can supplement a low-calcium diet or treat certain conditions like acute hypocalcemia and hypoparathyroidism.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in healthy metabolic function. It has numerous benefits, including reducing inflammation, combating leg cramps in pregnant women and even helping to prevent migraines. 
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants help protect your body’s cells from a number of different diseases. Your IV therapy may include different types of antioxidants, such as glutathione, or vitamins A, C or E. 
  • Antibiotics: A patient will likely receive antibiotics via an IV bag in cases of respiratory infection, bacterial skin infection, gastrointestinal infection, meningitis, Lyme disease and more. Common IV antibiotics include penicillins, oxazolidinones, cephalosporins, glycopeptides, fluoroquinolones, carbapenems and nitroimidazoles. 

The Benefits of IV Therapy

IV therapy can be beneficial for many different people for different reasons. Two of the main benefits for anyone who wants to try IV therapy include: 

  • Ease and convenience: If you are feeling under the weather, you probably don’t want to head to the hospital or your doctor’s office unless necessary. For many common symptoms, IV therapy is an easy and convenient option — you don’t even have to leave your own home. Concierge services, like Mobile IV Medics, come to you. Pick a comfortable spot, and we will do the rest. The insertion of the IV is relatively painless, just a small pinch. After it is inserted, you should feel minimal discomfort. The IV drip will do its job while you watch TV, read or work on your device. 
  • Health and wellness: For the most part, IV therapy is used to promote health and wellness. The infusion of fluids, vitamins and minerals can help support a healthy immune system, promote healthy skin and keep you hydrated. The right balance of vitamins and minerals in the body can also help improve your energy levels. 

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Common Uses of Intravenous Therapy

So, what is IV therapy used for? Generally, the main types of IV therapy are:

  • Hangover relief: After overindulging during a night out, you might wake up feeling awful. A dry mouth, pounding headache, upset digestive system and desire to keep the shades drawn are all telltale signs of a hangover. A bad hangover can make it hard to concentrate and ruin your entire day. IV therapy is an effective way to find relief that replaces the last-ditch efforts of chugging a glass of water or a cup of coffee with an over-the-counter pain killer and going back to bed. A hangover IV bag includes fluids to rehydrate the body, vitamins to help improve your energy levels and medication to reduce the painful symptoms of nausea, heartburn and headache. 
  • Athletic performance recovery: Your body may feel drained and sore after an intense workout. Whether you ran a marathon or hit the gym for a lifting session, your body could use a boost. IV therapy helps athletes recover following periods of exertion. Recovery IV drip therapy includes numerous components designed to support athletes during the recovery period. Fluids help you rehydrate, while vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids boost your energy levels and help your body repair any tissue damage.
  • Immune system support: The immune system fights off infection and keeps the body healthy, but we can still get sick. Whether you are worried about getting sick — especially during cold and flu season — or you’ve caught a bug, IV therapy can help support your immune system. IV therapy for immune system support includes a number of vitamins and minerals to naturally boost the immune system to expedite recovery and reduce the chances of you catching a bug. 
  • Cold and flu relief: If you find yourself knocked down by the symptoms of the cold or flu, IV therapy can offer relief. A cold and flu IV drip helps keep you hydrated. It also has vitamins and minerals to help your immune system do its job and kick the bug. Plus, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea medications help to relieve the uncomfortable cold and flu symptoms, such as coughing, body aches, headache and fever. 
  • Pregnancy symptom alleviation: Morning sickness is a common experience during pregnancy that consists of symptoms like an upset stomach or vomiting. The symptoms are often triggered by different environmental factors, such as certain smells, tastes or room temperatures or simply nothing at all. While these symptoms typically subside as the pregnancy progresses, they can be uncomfortable and disruptive to your daily life. IV therapy for morning sickness includes fluids for hydration, as well as vitamins and medication to help manage nausea and vomiting. 
  • Migraine and headache relief: Migraines and headaches can be debilitating. The exact cause of these conditions isn’t always clear, but common triggers include stress, diet, environment and certain medications. We can learn our triggers and try to avoid them, but migraines and headaches can still sneak up on us. If you are looking for relief, IV therapy for migraines and headaches includes vitamins and medication to mitigate your painful symptoms. If you experience nausea with your migraines, we can supplement the IV therapy package with anti-nausea medication. 
common uses of iv therapy

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How Long Does IV Therapy Take and How Long Do the Effects Last?

IV therapy drips amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fluids at a controlled rate. Once you are connected to the IV, which is usually a quick and simple process, the duration of the therapy will depend on why you are undergoing IV therapy. The average IV treatment for us lasts 45 minutes to an hour.

How quickly will you feel the effects of the IV drip? Again, the answer depends on why you are undergoing IV therapy. In some cases, you may feel the effects almost immediately. For instance, our Hydration Package refreshes and energizes as soon as the fluid reaches your bloodstream. In other cases, it may take more time. The effects can last for up to a few days after completing the procedure, depending on a number of different factors like the type of IV package, your hydration level and your body’s natural metabolic rate. 

Duration of IV Therapy Will Vary
The average IV treatment for us lasts 45 minutes to an hour.

Who Can Administer an IV?

IV treatment comes from a licensed and registered nurse (RN) who has completed an accredited nursing program. Some receive additional infusion therapy certification through the Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI) program. These nurses have standard RN licensure plus at least 1,600 hours of infusion therapy experience over the past two years. 

Mobile IV Medics has a team of more than 20 RNs stationed in areas around the United States like southern California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and more. 

Where to Get an IV

IV therapy is provided in a number of different settings, including: 

  • Hospitals: Many patients at hospitals undergo some type of IV therapy, typically in addition to some other kind of treatment. People treated with IV therapy at a hospital are either there for an emergency or as an inpatient. 
  • Urgent care centers: Urgent care centers can handle some more minor emergencies. For example, if you need stitches, you may opt to go to an urgent care center instead of a hospital emergency room. Urgent care centers are typically less expensive than hospitals. Depending on the reason for your visit, you may receive IV therapy at an urgent care center. 
  • Medical spas: Medical spas offer a wide array of treatments to choose from, ranging from traditional spa options like a massage to medical treatments like IV therapy. As a mix between a spa and a medical clinic, the staff is also a mix of non-healthcare and healthcare professionals. If you undergo an IV drip, a healthcare professional should administer the treatment.
  • IV bars: IV bars or lounges offer different IV therapies. These treatment sites are sometimes in a fixed location, while others operate as mobile units. 
  • At home: Concierge services, like Mobile IV Medics, come to you. Instead of traveling to another location, you can undergo IV therapy in the comfort of your own home. If you are located in Southern California, Texas, Nevada, Georgia, Illinois, or Florida, we likely service your area. 

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What Does It Cost?

IV therapy ranges in cost, depending on the type of therapy and the provider. IV therapy is not typically covered by insurance, which means patients are responsible for the cost. At Mobile IV Clinics, our packages start at $199 (the hydration package), but we have other packages targeted for specific symptoms such as a migraine or hangover

The cost of each of our packages covers the IV drip, the registered nurse and our travel. You can also opt to customize an IV therapy for your specific symptoms. When you decide to customize your therapy, each vitamin and nutrient costs $20. We also offer discounts for large groups of patients. The cost of our IV therapy options is comparable to what a patient would owe for an emergency room visit co-pay. 

What to Expect From an At-Home IV Therapy Session

Our IV therapy sessions are quick, comfortable experiences. You’ll start by booking your appointment online, where you can schedule an appointment as soon as the same day.

Your Mobile IV Medics nurse will arrive at your home and sanitize the surfaces where you’ll have treatment. Your nurse will also collect information regarding your medical history and conduct a physical assessment. 

When you’re ready, your nurse will tie a flexible band around your upper arm to contain blood to the injection site. Then, they’ll gently administer the IV. From there, you can relax while fluid drips from the IV bag into your bloodstream. After treatment, you can go about your day.

Getting Started

If IV therapy sounds like a good fit for you, we are here to provide our concierge services. Mobile IV Medics serve cities across Southern California, Texas, and Florida. Our trained team of nurses will come to your home or office to deliver IV therapy for individuals and groups. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help, or book your IV therapy online. 

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About the author

Brad
Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D.

Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D. is a licensed pharmacist and co-owner of Mobile IV Medics. With over 16 years of healthcare experience, Brad is bringing his expertise and passion for patient care to the Mobile IV Medics patient population. Prior to Mobile IV Medics, Brad worked in varying areas including both direct patient care and hospital leadership at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, nationwide health system pharmacy consulting for Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), and professor of pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy. He holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Arizona, a pharmacy practice residency from USC, and a lean six sigma green belt from Johns Hopkins.