Have you ever wondered what those clear bags hanging by patient beds are? In the medical field, they’re called IV bags. IV stands for intravenous, meaning “through or inside a vein.” This refers to what IV bags are usually used for, which is introducing medicine, vitamins, and minerals directly into a person’s bloodstream in a process called IV therapy.
Why is this so common in hospitals? It’s because of the advantage it offers over other forms of medication administration. The body absorbs and metabolizes much-needed substances more efficiently when they enter the bloodstream directly. This means persons undergoing IV therapy receive benefits much quicker than through other means, like oral intake.
Thanks to this, IV bags have also been used for less urgent needs, like bodily rejuvenation and sports recovery. Now that you have learned what IV bags are, you may be wondering what they contain to be so beneficial. Read on to learn more about what IV formulations usually have and how they’re used in different settings.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Intravenous Fluids?
Intravenous solutions come in many different types. Whichever gets used by a healthcare team depends on your needs. But they usually fall under the following kinds:
1. Crystalloid Solutions
Most intravenous fluids are crystalloid solutions. As a result of their tiny size and solubility, the molecules they contain can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the body’s cells and tissues. Normal saline and D5W are both salt and water solutions, while NS consists of salt and dextrose. More complex formulations also exist. For example, Ringer’s lactate contains salt, chloride, potassium, calcium, and lactate for intensive fluid replacement.
There are three distinct classes of crystalloids:
- Hypotonic Solutions: Hypotonicity occurs when extracellular fluid has a lower concentration than intracellular fluid, making the former seep inside. This is used to treat cellular dehydration.
- Hypertonic Solutions: When the concentration of solutes outside the cells is higher than the inside, water seeps out. This is used to increase blood volume or raise blood pressure.
- Isotonic Solutions: When extracellular and intracellular fluids are isotonic, no fluid is actively transported from one to the other. This is used to maintain fluid levels which may drop from blood loss, dehydration, or surgery.
2. Colloid Solutions.
Colloids are big molecules that are more likely to clump together than to penetrate through cell membranes. These have a harder time traversing cell membranes and are more likely to remain within the circulatory system. Healthcare practitioners usually administer them to people who can’t tolerate large fluid quantities or are malnourished.
What Are The Uses Of IVs?
IV therapy involves the intravenous administration of substances such as vitamins, fluids, or drugs. It’s used for:
- Rehydration: An IV fluid infusion is a common way to restore blood volume after severe blood loss. If you are too ill to swallow or dehydrated for some other reason, you may also be given fluids through an IV to restore your fluid levels.
- Blood Transfusion: You may receive a blood transfusion if you lose a lot of blood or if the amount of certain components in your bloodstream (such as red blood cells or plasma) drops to dangerous levels.
- Medication Administration: Various drugs can be mixed in or injected into an IV for certain needs. For example, a painkiller can be injected into an IV catheter for chronic pain. Antibiotics and even chemotherapy drugs can also be given through an IV.
What Are IV Bags Commonly Filled With?
What goes into an intravenous bag will vary based on your treatment. The most commonly used components are:
- Saline: This usually serves as the main matrix for any IV formulation. Saline, or a solution of sodium chloride and water, transports the other substances in your IV therapy. The use of saline also helps maintain hydration levels.
- Ringer’s Lactate: Avid medical drama fans may have heard of this term. This intravenous fluid consists of water, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium chloride, and sodium lactate. Like saline solutions, this can carry additional substances. Healthcare practitioners usually use it to restore blood volume.
- Dextrose: It’s used to treat hypoglycemia by intravenous treatment. Like glucose, dextrose can be broken down to be used by the body as fuel.
- Vitamin C: This compound is crucial for proper immune system function. Vitamin C IV therapy can be helpful if you are unwell or have problems with recurring illnesses. This is also essential for the maintenance of tissues in the body.
- Vitamin B: The vitamin B complex consists of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, and B12. These play a significant role in the maintenance of a healthy metabolism and nervous system. Patients with poor nutrient absorption may benefit from receiving vitamin B complex through IV treatment.
- Calcium: We can’t have healthy bones, teeth, and tissues without this mineral. Dairy products and dark green vegetables are good dietary sources of calcium. But there are times when dietary calcium does not suffice. Some medical diseases require high doses of calcium to be administered intravenously.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral for proper metabolic activity. It helps regulate inflammation, prevent migraines, and alleviate pregnancy-related leg cramps, among other benefits.
- Antioxidants: These nutrients shield cells from damage caused by high levels of free radicals. Antioxidants like glutathione or vitamins A, C, and E may be administered together as part of your IV therapy.
- Antibiotics: In cases of lung infection, bacterial skin infection, gastrointestinal infection, meningitis, Lyme disease, and more, a patient may get antibiotics through an IV drip.
When fluids have to be given to a patient intravenously, they are contained in a sterile pack called an IV bag. These liquids may be anything from a medication cocktail to a blood transfusion or a simple saline solution. When these enter the body directly through the bloodstream, they are absorbed and metabolized at a quicker and more efficient rate than through other means.
IV therapy is a safe and successful method of treating a wide range of medical conditions. And now, it’s also being used for more personal needs. This article should give you a good grasp of how helpful IV is for our continued health and wellness. May it also guide you in making decisions when it comes to your therapy choices.