What is intravenous therapy?

Intravenous (IV) therapy, or IV infusion, is a method of putting medicines or fluids directly into a vein. It requires the use of a needle or catheter (tube) that is inserted into a vein. Intravenous therapy can be used to treat many different medical conditions.

treatment condition

You may need intravenous therapy for different conditions, such as:

  • Dehydration (loss of body fluids without adequate replacement)
  • Malnutrition (nutrient deficiencies)
  • drug or alcohol dependence
  • cancer (with chemotherapy)
  • Autoimmune disease (a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues)
  • Infections and other diseases


You typically receive IV therapy in a clinical setting, including:

  • Hospital
  • Infusion center
  • physician’s office
  • Outpatient clinic
  • urgent care clinic

You may be able to have IV therapy at home. A visiting nurse or other health care provider will give IV treatment at home or teach you how to do it.

The IV treatment process begins with a healthcare professional inserting a needle attached to a small tube into a vein in your arm. The small tube connects to an IV bag that contains fluid or liquid medication. The solution in the IV bag enters your bloodstream through a vein. The IV line is connected to an automatic pump or adjustable valve.

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You will be monitored during the procedure. A healthcare professional may check to make sure the needle remains inserted and that the correct fluid is coming out of the IV bag.

This process may take 30 minutes or longer, depending on the type of IV fluid or medication you receive. After the bag is emptied, a healthcare professional will remove the needle from your arm.

who did it?

Typically, IV therapy is performed by a nurse or other trained health care professional. In some cases, you can do IV treatment yourself at home after training. Your caregiver or loved one may also be trained in IV therapy.

Types of

There are different types of IV treatments, including:

  • IV line: inserted directly into a vein with a needle
  • central venous catheter: a tube inserted into a vein in the chest
  • Central venous catheters and ports: tubes that connect to subcutaneous ports
  • Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC): A long tube inserted through a vein in the arm to a larger vein near the heart
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You may need IV therapy if you cannot take oral medication or if the medication is not available by mouth. Also, certain medications are more effective and work faster if they are delivered directly into your bloodstream through a vein. IVs also allow the drug to be delivered at a controlled rate rather than all at once.

How to prepare

To prepare for IV treatment, you can:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Make sure your arms are easily accessible and not restricted by clothing or jewelry.
  • Bring something to read or listen to during your IV treatment.


Depending on your medical condition and other health factors, you may need multiple IV treatments. Your doctor will discuss how often you receive infusions.

Complications that can occur with IV therapy include:

  • collapsed vein
  • Infect
  • Inflamed veins
  • swollen veins that lead to blood clots
  • Air embolism (air bubbles entering a vein)


Intravenous or IV therapy is a way of delivering fluids or medicines into your veins. You can perform this procedure in a clinical setting or at home. Intravenous therapy can be used to treat many conditions, including dehydration and malnutrition.

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VigorTip words

You may need IV treatment for different reasons. It is important to discuss all of your concerns and get answers to your questions with your healthcare provider before surgery. You may want to ask about any possible risks and complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the common types of IV treatments?

    Intravenous therapy for dehydration is common and includes a mixture of salts (electrolytes) and water. You may be dehydrated or not drinking enough fluids due to illness and need this IV treatment.

  • Is IV treatment painful?

    You may experience some pain when the IV needle is inserted into your vein. You should not feel any pain after that.

  • How long does an IV treatment last?

    The length of IV treatment may vary depending on the type of medicine you get. In general, most infusions last 30 minutes to an hour.