A Rundown on IV Hydration Therapy

When temperatures rise, so does dehydration. Luckily, IV therapy is a fast way to deliver fluids to the body.

By Lauren Hudson – May 1, 2023

Summer is a season synonymous with late nights at the lake, tennis matches all day, margaritas by the pool, and, unfortunately and inevitably, dehydration.

Dehydration is a prevalent and often overlooked problem. Research suggests that 98% of athletes are at least mildly dehydrated. Furthermore, there are serious implications for being dehydrated, with decrements in physical and cognitive performance noticeable when 2% or more of body weight is lost due to physical exertion or heat.

So, is there a solution to this dehydration situation? Health and wellness proponents say there is — in the form of IV hydration therapy. What is IV hydration therapy?

As the name implies, IV hydration therapy involves inserting an IV into your arm to administer fluids directly into your circulation. IV infusion has been used in clinical settings since 1832 and was pioneered by Dr. Thomas Latta during the cholera epidemic. However, though having been long used for treating hospital patients, it’s only recently that the therapy has evolved into a wellness treatment.

IV hydration therapy works by allowing fluids to directly circulate by bypassing the digestive tract, providing hydration in a swift way that drinking fluids alone cannot. The fluids are varying concoctions of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and antioxidants that are sold as prepackaged solutions and customized bags.

One such popular IV bag that many are purchasing is the “Myers’ cocktail,” an infusion made up of magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of exhaustion (including chronic fatigue syndrome) migraines, asthma attacks, fibromyalgia and acute muscular spasms. Other popular infusions include blends with names like “Hangover” and “Immune Boost,” which typically consist of different combinations of vitamins such as B-complex, vitamin B12, vitamin C, glutathione and more.

Who is the therapy for?

Jon Barnhill, co-owner of local Austin business IV Bird, says there are two main types of consumers interested in undergoing IV hydration therapy — the first being “people interested in wellness who want to tap into their body and ensure their fluids are at 100% at all times.” Barnhill says these people commonly include “athletes training pre- or post-marathon, people that travel frequently and those who don’t want to get sick.”

The secondary market for IV hydration therapy is those who are hungover and looking to attenuate their symptoms. Barnhill says this is particularly true in Austin.

“We have a revolving door of visitors coming into the city,” Barnhill says. “We get a lot of bachelorette and bachelor parties.”

Many wishing to stave off nausea, sluggishness and headaches typically associated with hangover report feeling better and having an enhanced feeling of recovery after undergoing the IV therapy. In fact, Barnhill’s business and others offer an infusion specifically formulated to combat hangovers, which acts by quickly delivering fluids to the bloodstream.

Lastly, those suffering from chronic illness also seek IV treatment, and different solutions are offered depending on their disease processes and the benefits sought. Many infusions are available, and requesting something specific to you and your health needs is possible.

How does it work?

IV hydration therapy is a relatively fast and convenient process, as many infusion providers, including IV Bird, are mobile and will come to your house on demand. Once there, a licensed phlebotomist will administer the treatment. Barnhill says most appointments are only about 30 minutes long.

Mobile services are excellent options for those feeling under the weather and unable to travel to receive treatment. Many businesses also offer in-person “IV drip bars” for those who prefer a more professional setting.

What are the risks?

IV therapy has its fair share of skeptics who believe the therapy is ineffective as a wellness treatment. Though IV infusion administered in a clinical setting is highly researched, some believe there’s a lack of evidence for those looking to take their health into their own hands. Furthermore, Barnhill says there are risks and contraindications for receiving the treatment.

“Some things to look out for that would result in us turning someone away is anyone with congestive heart failure or chronic kidney disease,” Barnhill says.

Though IV therapy is generally safe, there are a few risks to be aware of when it comes to IV insertions. Some of these include infections, bleeding at the insertion site, swelling, medication dosing errors, blood clotting and more.

Either way, it’s always important to be safe when trying any new therapy or treatment, and when in doubt, ask your doctor if IV hydration therapy is the right choice for you.


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