Rehab Select Blog

What is IV Therapy and When is it Helpful?

Posted by Bobby Stephenson

Jul 13, 2020 10:30:00 AM

IV Therapy 1

IV fluid administration is a common treatment in hospital, rehabilitation, and long-term care settings. If your care team recommends IV therapy for you or a loved one, you may be interested to learn more about what IV therapy is and what its benefits are.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly how IV therapy works so you understand how it helps.

What can I expect?

Intravenous (IV) therapy involves injecting fluid containing medication or nutrients into the bloodstream. A medical practitioner inserts a needle into a vein and activates a drip mechanism. The contents of the IV travel from a bag through a tube and into the vein through a special needle (cannula).

The liquid portion of most IVs is a sterile saline solution that hydrates, dilutes medications, and helps the body absorb nutrients. In addition to the saline solution, an IV may contain other substances.

Common substances used in IV treatments in a skilled nursing center may include:

  • Electrolytes, glucose, and other nutrients
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain medication
  • Blood and blood products
  • Anesthetics
  • Immunoglobulin

IV therapy is also a common part of treatment for chemotherapy, dialysis, surgery, and other procedures.

IV Therapy Benefits

An IV is a quick and easy way to deliver medication and nutrients to the body, without waiting for the digestive system to process them. The bloodstream is able to absorb many substances far quicker through IV treatment than any other method of delivery.

Patients usually experience quicker relief because of the speed of the delivery system. For example, a person who is dehydrated, hypoglycemic, or in pain may feel better within a short time after receiving the appropriate IV treatment.

In addition to quick delivery and recovery times, IV therapy also carries very little risk when administered properly. Qualified professionals know how to avoid risks associated with IVs like inflammation, leaks, and infection, making side effects much less likely. Aside from the initial prick of the needle, IV therapy is relatively painless in the right hands too.

One final benefit is the way IV apparatus is designed to allow for precise dosing and administration. Medical staff can make incremental changes to the dosage and easily adjust the drip line to maximize effectiveness.

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Common Reasons for IV Therapy for Seniors

An IV is one of the most common sights in a healthcare setting because it’s so versatile and effective. IVs have been used since the 1830s to replenish vital substances in the body and promote healing. The basic premise of IV therapy hasn’t changed much since the early days, but the number of therapies available through IV treatment and the efficacy have expanded tremendously.

In a short- or long-term care facility, IV treatments are common for the following reasons:

  • Dehydration
  • Nutrition deficiencies
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Disease-related pain
  • Infection
  • Blood loss


Nearly every system in our body relies on proper hydration to function, yet nearly ¾ of the American population is chronically dehydrated. While most of us just need to drink more water daily, dehydration can be a serious risk factor for older people. Dehydration is a common cause of hospitalization for seniors and can lead to organ failure, or worse, without treatment.

Hydration therapy helps reverse and prevent dehydration to minimize these complications and allow the body's healing mechanisms to function at their fullest capacity. An IV with fluids and electrolytes can replenish nutrients lost through sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and natural processes, especially when fluids are lost at a rate faster than consumed. This type of IV treatment may also be essential for those who are unconscious or unable to drink fluids.

Nutrition deficiencies

Certain health conditions and poor diet can leave patients with inadequate nutrients or imbalances in their bodies. Nutrient IV therapy immediately delivers vitamins, nutrients, and amino acids to the bloodstream when malnutrition is a concern.

A type of IV therapy known as TPN (total parenteral nutrition) provides essential nutrition when other methods of feeding (oral or tube-feedings) aren't possible. TPN bypasses the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where nutrients have to be absorbed before being delivered to the bloodstream.

Immune deficiencies

The effects of aging, chemotherapy, autoimmune disorders, and other factors can lead to a weakened immune system. One way to deliver antibodies and other disease-fighting substances is through IV therapy. Treatments like immunoglobulin therapy help strengthen a weakened immune system so it can better fight infection.

Disease-related pain

Pain and inflammation are common side effects of surgery and conditions like arthritis, cancer, and fibromyalgia. An IV can provide quick relief by delivering pain or anti-inflammatory medication right into your system. Your provider can also make easy adjustments to pain medication until the right dose for relief is achieved.


Oral antibiotics are usually an effective treatment for many infections. However, severe conditions like pneumonia, sepsis, MRSA, UTIs, or other infections may benefit from more potent IV antibiotics. IV antibiotics are also a common protocol for wound care and patients who are unable to ingest oral medication.

Intravenous therapy delivers antibiotics straight to the bloodstream for a powerful fight against bacterial infection. Higher concentrations of antibiotics can reach the tissues faster than oral medication, which is critical to combat serious infections.

Blood Loss

Another reason you may see an IV treatment at a rehabilitation facility is for blood transfusion. Blood loss from an injury, illness, open wound, or surgery may require a transfusion to replace lost blood. Chronic anemia may also lead to the need for a blood transfusion or IV therapy.

During a blood transfusion, an IV line delivers healthy blood, blood cells, platelets, or plasma into your bloodstream. This process helps replace blood that was lost or achieve a healthier blood composition.

IV Therapy at Rehab Select

IV therapies aren’t always available in short-term care settings, but Rehab Select is able to offer this service thanks to the trained 24-hour nursing staff. The round-the-clock nurses and medical staff who administer and monitor IVs at Rehab Select have special training and expertise in the treatment in order to provide the safest, most painless experience in-house.

If you or a loved one requires IV treatment during your time at Rehab Select, you can rest assured your recovery is in competent hands. If you want to know more about IV therapy, feel free to ask your provider any further questions or call 1-844-734-2200 for more information.

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