Rehab Select Blog

What is IV Nutrition Therapy and What Settings Use It?

Posted by Bobby Stephenson

Sep 1, 2020 9:30:00 AM


If you or your family’s individualized care plan involves IV nutrition therapy (IVNT), you might be curious to know more about the treatment. Let’s talk about how IVNT works, how it helps, and who benefits from the treatment so you can arm yourself with knowledge.

IV Nutrition Therapy is a form of IV treatment that supplies the body with necessary vitamins and minerals to replenish deficiencies or aid in healing. The nutrients get delivered through a liquid solution from an IV line, PICC line, or port.

The IV drip delivers nutrients directly to the bloodstream. This process bypasses digestion to provide quicker delivery to the cells that need it.

If you’re unable to get the right nutrients through your diet or your body has a difficult time absorbing vitamins and minerals, your doctor may recommend IV nutrition therapy.


Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is not the same as IV nutrition therapy. The differences between the two types of IV therapy are the contents of the IV and the purpose of the treatments.

TPN provides comprehensive nutrition, including macronutrients, electrolytes, and other nutrients to replace food. IVNT supplies specific nutrients to the body, but doesn’t contain protein, fat, and carbohydrates like TPN.

The purpose of TPN is to provide an alternate source of nutrition when a person is unable to eat or absorb nutrients, such as during surgery or incapacitation. IVNT is designed to help with healing or enhance levels of insufficient vitamins and minerals in your body, not replace food like TPN.

Benefits of IVNT

IVNT offers a number of benefits that make it so prevalent and advantageous in healthcare. These benefits include:

  • Direct delivery of nutrients
  • Correcting fluids, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies
  • Preventing dehydration
  • Low risk of complications
  • Decreasing inflammation and pain
  • Boosting immune function
  • Preventing cell damage
  • Promotes healing

These benefits make IVNT therapy popular in a variety of long- and short-term settings.

Download the Guide: Long Term Care

Settings Where IV Nutrition Therapy is Common

Elderly patients are much more likely to have a nutritional deficiency or experience dehydration than other populations. Many factors, including the natural decline in body functions, compromised immune function, and weakness contribute to these deficiencies, so older adults often benefit most from IVNT.

The types of settings where IVNT is common include:

  • Short- and long-term rehabilitation centers
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term nursing centers
  • Home hospice care
  • Home palliative care

Up to 80% of hospital patients receive some form of IV therapy, so it’s very common in hospitals. IVNT can be life-saving in emergencies when immediate nutrient delivery is critical.

IVNT is also particularly useful in long-term rehabilitation settings to prevent hospitalization and to help manage the conditions that prompted care. If the care facility doesn’t offer IVNT, you have to return to the hospital whenever IV treatment is needed. Long-term treatment centers must have the specialized supervision and equipment required to help stabilize chronic conditions through IVNT in order to offer it.

Conditions that Benefit from IV Nutrition Therapy

The settings above are often associated with situations that require IVNT. Some of the conditions that lead many older adults to require this type of treatment include dementia, wounds, and conditions that require surgery.


Men and women with dementia or Alzheimer’s may have a hard time staying hydrated as their capacity for self-care and memory decline. Dehydration and nutrient deficiencies can further impair cognitive ability and other functions, so it’s important to replace those bodily essentials. IV nutrition therapy helps fill in nutritional gaps your loved one may experience as a result of cognitive and motor decline.

Wound Care

IVNT is an integral part of the wound care process. Your body needs optimal levels of certain nutrients to support immune function, collagen production, and wound tensile strength, which all impact wound healing. For example, too little levels of vitamin C in your body can interfere with collagen synthesis, which impairs wound healing. IVNT may be one component of your individualized treatment plan for diabetic ulcers, surgical incisions, and other wounds.


Surgery usually causes trauma to the body and may increase the body’s need for certain nutrients. IVNT can deliver those nutrients, such as antioxidants, to stabilize your body’s reactions, reduce oxidation, reduce swelling and inflammation, support the immune system, and enhance healing.

If you think about it, you’re usually told to fast and stop taking certain medications and supplements before surgery, which sets you up for nutrient deficiencies before you even enter the operating room. IVNT helps replace these lost nutrients for better surgical outcomes.


Pain is often associated with inflammation and swelling, which IVNT can help address. Your provider can use an IV infusion to deliver nutrients that provide relief for conditions like fibromyalgia, neuropathy, cancer, migraine, arthritis, and spinal cord injury. Depending on your condition, some vitamins and anti-inflammatory nutrients can address factors that contribute to pain.

In addition to these situations, IVNT can also benefit autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, thyroid disorders, asthma, respiratory infections, and many more, making it a common treatment modality.


IV Nutrition Therapy Training

In order to administer IVNT, your nurse or provider has to have specialized education and training in the treatment. Supervision by a trained professional helps ensure the treatment is done properly, prevent complications, monitor reactions, and maintain nutrient balance.

Many long-term care centers aren’t able to offer the rigorous protocol required for IV therapy, so patients have to return to the hospital for every IV treatment. This can be rather costly, agitating, and inconvenient.

However, some treatment centers, like Rehab Select, offer a high level of multidisciplinary care in-house, including IV nutrition therapy. The facility has a nurse available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to supervise IV treatments, making Rehab Select a preferred provider in situations where IVNT is required.

If you or a loved one need comprehensive in-house care for an illness or injury, consider Rehab Select. Contact the customer service department to inquire about intake by calling or contacting us online.

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Topics: IV Therapy