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IV Fluids: A Complete Guide

May 25, 2022

IV Fluids: A Complete Guide


Maybe you have seen your favorite celebrity or athlete receive an IV before a big event or after a big game. Remember Game 1 of the 2014 NBA finals, LeBron James’ cure for cramps? It may seem strange or out of reach when you first hear about it, but receiving IV fluids is a wonderful treatment that almost anyone can do!

There are many reasons you might want to incorporate receiving IV fluids into your life. Whether you struggle with a condition chronically, feel a little under the weather, or simply want to boost your vitamins – an IV treatment is right for you!

If you have never heard of IV Therapy or don’t know what IV fluids are, we have all the information you need here.

What Are IV Fluids?

IV Therapy Treatment is a form of delivering vitamins, nutrients, minerals, or medicine to your body through an IV.

Based on what you want to achieve, such as better hydration, mental clarity, or athletic performance, the saline solution will quickly administer electrolytes, vitamins, or other nutrients that can help boost your health and overall wellness. The exact mixture of your IV will depend on your body and your goals for IV Therapy.

How the Fluids Work With Your Cells

It is also helpful to understand what the IV fluids are doing inside your body.


Osmosis is an essential cellular process in which solvent molecules move through a “semipermeable membrane” from an area of high concentration to an area of lower concentration.

By doing this, the concentration of solutes will be equal on both sides of the membrane. In other words, the molecules move in or out of a membrane. If more solutes are needed in your cell, they will become more concentrated. If there are too many solutes in your cell, they will move out of the cell.

Water is always moving in your body, which makes it the perfect example to help understand osmosis. It will always balance itself so that water will move from an area with a lot of water to an area with little to no water.

This means that if a cell needs water, it will travel from an area of high concentration to the cell after moving through the membrane. Similarly, if the inside of a cell has a higher concentration of water than the outside, the water will rush out and pass through the membrane.

Osmotic Pressure

Osmotic Pressure is an essential function that will ultimately protect your cells. Although water will rush to any cell that needs water or other solutes, osmotic pressure prevents it from taking in any more water than it can handle.

As a result, if osmotic pressure did not protect the cells, they could absorb too much water and eventually burst.

What Is an IV Therapy Treatment?

IV stands for intravenous therapy, which can be broken down into “intra-,” meaning within or inside, and “venous,” which is related to the veins. IV therapy is a method of administering fluids into the body via the veins.

The fluids administered are the IV fluids made up of a saline solution plus whatever minerals or vitamins you want to receive.

At The I.V. Doc, a medical professional will come to your home so you can safely receive the correct amount of fluids. It is a quick and easy process from the comfort of your own home!

Why Are IV Fluids Used?

If your stomach and the digestive lining are irritated, it may be difficult to effectively absorb any vitamins and nutrients. They might get lost or not be inefficiently absorbed when passing through our digestive system.

While you may not play basketball like LeBron, even everyday athletes, marathon runners, and extreme athletes get cramps from dehydration. In a 2011 study, it was found that the vast majority of NFL teams use IV fluid to prehydrate their players prior to a game to combat dehydration and cramping. An IV Fluid treatment is the the fastest way to rehydrate and combat debilitating cramps from dehydration

However, receiving vitamins and minerals through IV fluids allows you to replace fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system completely. This will remove the risk of additional irritation of the digestive lining while drinking by mouth, and it promotes the benefits of hydration to begin.

What Are the Forms of IV Fluids?

IV fluids are specifically designed to create a specific supply of your cells with what they need while keeping the osmosis process in mind. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, whether something flows in or out of your cells impacts how your body responds.

IV fluids are either crystalloids or colloids. The right choice for you will be dependent on what your goals are from an IV Therapy Treatment.


Crystalloid solutions contain tiny molecules that easily fit through the cell’s membranes. Basically, your cell membrane has many tiny holes that only particles small enough can fit through. Crystalloid solutions are able to fit through those holes and get into your cell.

Crystalloids are used when healthcare professionals want to increase fluid volume in your cell.


Colloid solutions, on the other hand, contain larger molecules. Because of this, they do not fit through the tiny holes in your cell membrane as crystalloid solutions do. This allows colloid solutions to remain in your bloodstream rather than entering your cells.

What Are The Four Common Types of IV Fluids?

There are different makeups of IV fluid solution, which includes:

Normal Saline

Normal saline is a sterile, nonpyrogenic solution. It is a crystalloid fluid that quickly passes through the cell membrane and is generally isotonic.

This solution is most common in IV Therapy Treatments and can be used for various conditions. It’s extremely beneficial in providing your body with fluids and works well for most hydration needs due to vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating.

This type of solution has to be used with caution in patients with cardiac issues because anything with a high sodium content will cause extra fuel retention in your body. Excess fluid retention puts stress on your heart, which may be a serious issue for people with previous heart conditions.

Normal saline is most often used for:

  • Fluid replacement
  • Metabolic alkalosis
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Hyponatremia
  • Patients who require Salt loading like postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) patients (NaCL loading)

Half Normal Saline

Half normal saline is also a common form of IV fluid. It’s hypotonic, which means it is a crystalloid solution made of dissolved salt in sterile water. This is different from normal saline, an isotonic solution with double the amount of salt as that of a hypotonic solution.

Half normal saline should not be used when the patients need to be rehydrated quickly from dehydration caused by exercise, food poisoning, hangover, flu or other viral disease, gastroenteritis or other causes of volume loss. ½ NS is mainly used when combined with Dextrose (i.e. D5%) to provide maintenance fluids when someone is not eating and needs nutrition. Most commonly used in hospitals prior to procedures (D5% 1/2NS + 20 meq KCl).

Lactated Ringers

Lactated Ringer’s is another highly common IV fluid. Although you might not have ever heard of lactated ringers before, it is much more common than you probably realize. In fact, Lactated Ringers, or LR solution, is our go-to and most commonly used solution. If you have ever been seriously injured or undergone surgery, you most likely have received an injection of lactated ringers.

This solution contains sodium, chloride, calcium, and potassium. It also contains lactate to balance the solution, making it more similar to your blood and most suitable for rehydration. Lactate acid is a chemical that’s most commonly known for being in milk, though our muscles also produce it when we exercise. Don’t worry – adding lactate doesn’t have the same effects as lactic acid from anaerobic exercise.

Lactated ringers are basically normal saline (slightly less concentrated sodium and chloride) with the addition of electrolytes and lactate, which helps explain why the solution is also isotonic. It’s most often used to help support treatment for:

  • Dehydration
  • Burn victims
  • Fluid loss in the lower gastrointestinal tract
  • Acute blood loss
  • Replacement of fluid and pH buffers


Dextrose is a type of simple sugar. It is chemically identical to glucose and is often used in processed foods and treated like a sweetener, but it has several uses in a medical setting.

With a dextrose solution, the IV fluid acts as a carrier for dextrose, which acts as sugar readily available for cells to use as energy. For IV fluids, dextrose can be added to water, saline solution, or lactated ringers.

5% Dextrose + saline can be used to:

  • Boost Nutrition
  • Boost rehydration
  • Address Hypernatremia, or high sodium levels

What Are the Types of Treatments With IV Fluids

Now that you understand IV fluids and their many benefits, you might be ready to sign up for your next IV fluid treatment. However, there are many different options to choose from, each catering to the specific results you want.

At The I.V. Doc, our IV treatments include:

  • Cleanse Treatment is used to rebalance your body with fluid and electrolytes and is the most basic, streamlined treatment that aims to rehydrate your body.
  • Detox Treatment is used to provide your body with a natural source of hydration and energy, which can help you fight off the lethargy that comes after too much food or alcohol.
  • Refresh Treatment supplies your body with the proper hydration and vitamins necessary to regain mental clarity and physical ability.
  • Rescue Treatment is used to provide your body with electrolytes and hydration when your body is depleted and dehydrated (usually caused by a hangover).
  • Beautify Treatment is used to give your body a load of B vitamins, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and an additional multivitamin pack that will rehydrate, replenish and restore.


IV fluids are the perfect way to help you recover or add a general wellness boost to your life. There are many different types of IV fluids and various nutrients and vitamins to add, making them customizable to your overall health goals.

The effects of IV therapy depend on why you are undergoing treatment. In some cases, you may feel the impact instantly, while more time may be required in others. The first step is to determine your health goals with the help of IV therapy and discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

At The I.V. Doc, our medical team is made up of professional physicians who strive to help you on your wellness journey. It is also important to us that you are comfortable throughout the entire process, which is why we come to you!


LeBron James' cure for cramps: 2 1/2 bags of IV fluid, seven cramping pills | News Yahoo

Osmosis - Definition and Examples | Biology Dictionary

Colloids versus crystalloids for fluid resuscitation in critically ill people

Tonicity: hypertonic, isotonic & hypotonic solutions (article) | Khan Academy


« Back to Blog | The I.V. Doc Information on Dehydration, Jet Lag, Hangovers, Food Poisoning and Vitamin Drips

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