Intravenous simplymeans "within vein" (or "inside the vein"). Therapiesadministered intravenously are often included in the designation of specialtydrugs. Intravenous infusions are commonly referred to as drips because manysystems of administration employ a drip chamber, which prevents air from enteringthe blood stream (air embolism), and allows an estimation of flow rate.
Intravenoustherapy may be used to correct electrolyte imbalances, to deliver medications,for blood transfusion or as fluid replacement to correct, for example,dehydration. Intravenous therapy can also be used for chemotherapy.
Compared withother routes of administration, the intravenous route is the fastest way todeliver fluids and medications throughout the body. The bioavailability of themedication is 100% in IV therapy.
Intravenousinfusions are fluid solutions administered through a vein. There are numerousdifferent types of solutions available, but they can be broken down into simplecategories depending on the function they serve. Some replace lost fluids, andothers provide nutrients, replace lost blood, and deliver medications.
One of the mostcommon uses for intravenous infusions is to replenish fluids lost throughdehydration. These infusions often contain normal saline solution, acombination of sterile water and sodium chloride. This solution is known as anisotonic crystalloid, or a solution that contains the same amount ofelectrolytes as plasma in the body. It is used in cases of moderate to severedehydration, such as that caused by vomiting or diarrhea, when replacing thefluids quickly is vital.
When a patient`sgastrointestinal tract is compromised and nutrients cannot be absorbed - oreating can worsen the condition - intravenous infusions called total parenteralnutrition may be given. These solutions contain a mix of sterile water,electrolytes, sugar, proteins, fats, and other nutrients, depending on theneeds of the patient. Diseases and disorders that commonly require totalparenteral nutrition include late stages of Crohn`s disease, obstructive boweldisorder, and ulcerative colitis.
Intravenousinfusions are also used to deliver medication directly to the blood stream.Certain medications, such as intravenous immunoglobulin, a type of antibody,can only be given through the vein. Other medications, such as certain narcoticpain relievers, are given intravenously because the method allows them to theywork faster than when taken orally. Chemotherapy for treatment of cancer isalso typically given intravenously.
When performed bya medical professional, intravenous infusions are typically safe. The mostcommon reaction is mild pain and redness at the site of the injection, althoughdifferent medications may cause different side effects. Any time the skin ispunctured, there is a risk of infection. Having a medical professional,typically a nurse, monitor the Intravenous Infusion and change the injectionsite when irritation is evident can help prevent complications.