Intravenous therapy

Intravenous therapy is one of the basic treatment forms in severe bacterial and fungal infections and should be a supportive therapy in dehydrated patients who are  emaciated by a disease. Infusions can strengthen the body, reduce inflammation, nourish the patient and correct dehydration. Intravenous infusions can be administered through peripheral venous catheters, implantable ports and the procedure usually lasts several hours up to a few days. Peripheral venous catheter with a controlled fluid balance should be constantly monitored.

Human body needs 2-3 litres of fluids a day but the demand can be increased by high body or ambient temperature. Children and seniors are at higher risk of dehydration. Vomiting, diarrhoea, chronic diseases and dysphagia can also increase the risk.

The most common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • apathy
  • impaired consciousness
  • oliguria
  • skin and mucus membrane dryness
  • tachycardia

Fluid balance record should be registered to avoid both dehydration and fluid overload. The fluid balance can be easily calculated by comparing the total fluid intake to its total output. Both amounts should be similar.

Types of fluids:

  • Crystalloids – electrolyte solutions which diffuse easily through capillary membrane. They are used to correct fluid loss and regulate fluid imbalance. They differ in terms of ph level and the content of such particles as sodium, potassium or magnesium. Crystalloids are easily available and do not cause allergies, however, they also have some drawbacks. They are easily distributed to extravascular spaces and cause oedema, impair wound healing and flush fluids out of the body. Long-term administration of crystalloids should be complemented with colloid supplementation.
  • Colloids – volume expanders which replace plasma and increase intravascular volume. They increase cardiac output, stabilise circulation and improve oxygen transportation. Colloids can be divided into natural (albumin and fresh frozen plasma) and synthetic ones (gelatine and dextran). They preserve high oncotic pressure and by binding particles of water prevent it from getting out of the vessel.

The disadvantages of colloids include the risk of potential allergy or anaphylactoid reaction when colloids are delivered too quickly.

  • Amino acid solutions – basic structural elements of proteins. They affect hormone production and cell regeneration and they participate in fats and carbohydrates metabolism. They also promote wound healing and recovery.
  • Parenteral nutrition – parenteral feeding administered in neoplastic diseases, in acute pancreatitis, in gastrointestinal tract malfunction or intestinal absorptive capacity is impaired. The nutritional formulae contain all the necessary nutrients.

Antibiotics, antifungal medications, pain relievers as well as personalised treatment to stimulate the immune system and improve organs functioning can all be administered intravenously.

Infusion types:

  • Gravity drip is one of the most popular types of intravenous infusions, and it typically uses only the pressure supplied by gravity.
  • Infusion pump allows precise control over the flow rate and total amount delivered. The infused fluids should be as warm as the patient’s body temperature to avoid hypothermia and hypothermia-induced complications.
  • Individual pump which can be used at home and on a journey.

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