Does it hurt to get an IV
What is an infusion?
Doctors refer to the administration of special infusion solutions as an infusion. Colloquially, this also means the liquid itself. An infusion is necessary for many clinical pictures and helps to normalize the fluid and salt balance of a patient. In contrast to the so-called transfusion, the patient does not receive any blood products such as red blood cells or blood clotting proteins with infusions.
Types of infusions
Infusion solutions differ in their ingredients and their proportions. The purpose of an infusion results from these properties:
- Electrolyte solutions contain electrolytes (salts) such as sodium, potassium or calcium. A special form is the NaCl infusion (sodium chloride), which contains pure table salt.
- In addition to salts, glucose solutions mainly contain glucose (grape sugar).
- Colloidal solutions contain colloids such as hydroxyethyl starch. These large, water-binding molecules are used to maintain blood pressure.
- Infusion therapy with drugs: Many drugs can only be administered after they have been dissolved in an infusion solution - for example in an NaCl infusion.
Further information: Vitamin C infusion
When to perform a vitamin C infusion and what you have to pay attention to, you can read in the article vitamin C infusion.
When to do an infusion
Infusion therapy is always necessary when a patient's cardiovascular function needs to be supported. Possible areas of application include:
- Lack of fluids, for example in extreme heat or diarrhea
- Loss of blood after an accident or with internal bleeding
- Infusions as part of an artificial diet
- Replacement of electrolytes in case of salt deficiency
- Administration of soluble drugs, for example during chemotherapy
What do you do with an infusion?
The most common way of giving infusions is through a vein. This requires a permanently lying venous access (venous catheter or port catheter for chemotherapy), which can be on the arms or legs as well as on the neck.
A subcutaneous infusion allows large amounts of fluids to be administered quickly. To do this, the doctor places a thin needle under the skin (subcutis). The small blood vessels take up the infusion solutions and pass them on into the bloodstream.
The liquid from the infusion bottles or bags flows into the body through a plastic tube and the catheter or an infusion needle. In the case of longer administration - for example in intensive care units - special infusion pumps are used that enable precise dosing.
What are the risks of an infusion?
In principle, the necessary access during an infusion can become inflamed by introduced pathogens. The doctor will then remove the catheter or needle and, if necessary, prescribe an antibiotic. When laying the access, nerve injuries or bleeding can occur.
Depending on the infusion solution, various complications can arise. These include:
- Electrolyte solutions: administration of excessively high electrolyte concentrations
- colloidal solutions: allergic reactions and renal dysfunction
- Glucose solutions: overhydration or impaired consciousness
- Shifts in the acid-base balance
- excessive increase in blood pressure
- Stress on the heart from excessive amounts of fluids
- Formation of edema (water deposits in the tissue)
- Vein irritation and incorrect position of the venous catheter
What should I watch out for after an infusion?
The electrolyte levels are checked regularly for long-term infusions. Watch out for skin irritations such as redness or overheating in the area of the puncture site of the infusion needle, which can indicate inflammation. Impaired consciousness, swelling, or shortness of breath are typical symptoms of complications that occur in a infusion may occur.
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