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Dangers of running IVs fast


Elective IV hydration services are an awesome way to optimize health, help with illness, recover from body injury, altitude sickness and detoxify. Most do a fabulous job and have happy clients. However, there is something I am increasingly hearing about that really worries me; people who provide IVs and have no idea what they are doing. This procedure is still invasive and care and safety should be of upmost importance.

It’s not a difficult skill to start an IV frankly, but there should be some real knowledge somewhere in the organization about what goes into the bag, how the fluids in the bag are compounded, how they can affect people and possible dangers. Most IV bags with vitamins should be compounded by a medical professional in a clean room, a sterile environment designed specifically for ensuring contamination cannot happen.

Additionally, bags should not be run as fast as possible. This can be incredibly dangerous for the client as well as lowering what the body can absorb. Some infusions are particular prone to these dangers, such as NAD+.

If you receive an NAD+ infusion and they run it faster than recommended and have to give you oxygen due to shortness of breath, something is terribly wrong and they are putting you at risk. The only reason for them to do this is to maximize their profits, but this is effectively turning a very safe procedure into a high-risk operation.

Please don’t get me wrong: we, and many other IV lounges, put the health, safety and comfort of our clients ahead of profits. But not everyone does. If you feel that something is wrong, it probably is.

I have been asked: “Why don’t you use pressure sleeves on the IV bags?” Why would we? Pressure sleeves are designed to run an IV quickly in life threatening situations when the risk to the patient not receiving an IV outweighs the risk of running the IV quickly. We don’t give IVs to address a medical emergency and the gravity drip time actually allows the nutrients to be absorbed by your body, not washed out.

The use of pressure bags by medics/clinicians giving elective IV hydration services is for one basic reason: profit. The faster they infuse your bag, the quicker they can move on to the next person. Is it dangerous? Yes, absolutely.

Let’s look at why this is dangerous:

Blood pressure increases as blood volume is rapidly increased. As the pressure comes up and it becomes easier for the heart to pump blood around the body, the heart rate slows down and doesn’t beat as hard. While this can be life saving for the person in an emergency situation, it can pose potential risks to a person electing to receive a vitamin infused IV. Besides the risk of air emboli in the line from a pressure bag potentially pushing an air emboli from an empty bag into the vein, the following can happen"

  • Pulmonary edema- the pooling of fluid in the lungs
  • Potential kidney failure
  • A diabetic emergency
  • Increased intracranial pressure

In a professional, controlled environment where client safety is the foremost concern, IV vitamin infusions are incredibly safe and offer significant benefits. If the person running your IV however is trying to run the IV as fast as possible to be able to move onto the next client, ask yourself if the significantly increased risk of this acceleration is worth it from your perspective and not theirs.

Ask them about the risks of running it faster. If they don’t know, or try to trivialize the risks, do not let them do it. If you decide to proceed, ensure they have the minimum equipment to help them deal with an issue if it does arise, such as oxygen and an AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) and certainly share pertinent medical history with them directly in case it’s missed on any forms.