While IV therapy is usually perfectly safe, there are times when it can entail complications such as vein inflammation, infections, and blood clots.
Keep scrolling to learn about the risks involved in intravenous therapy and the ways Reset IV makes sure that your treatment unfolds as smoothly as possible.
What Are the Most Common Complications of IV Therapy?
An IV therapy, just like any other type of infusion, is never completely risk free. Fortunately, the complications associated with IV treatments affect only a tiny percentage of individuals receiving IV treatment. And if detected early, they are in most cases not a reason for concern. Here are the most common complications of IV therapy and the symptoms you should look out for:
The most common IV therapy complication, phlebitis is the inflammation of the vein around the spot where the needle is inserted. Phlebitis can be caused either by a needle that is not properly sterilized (bacterial phlebitis), a needle that is too large so that it tears or punctures the vein (mechanical phlebitis), or the ingredients in the infused fluids (chemical phlebitis).
The symptoms of phlebitis include:
- Pain in the arm
- Swelling and warmth at the insertion site
- Tenderness along the vein
- Redness around the infusion spot.
Superficial phlebitis which affects veins on the surface of the skin is rarely a serious condition. It is usually treated with warm compresses and anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases, however, phlebitis can cause blood clots that partially or completely obstruct blood circulation and result in thrombosis. A blood clot may also break off and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.
Extravasation is the leakage of part of IV fluids from the vein into the surrounding tissue. The leakage can happen when the tip of the catheter slips out of the vein and becomes dislodged. It also occurs when the drip passes through the wall of the blood vessel and pushes through the other side of the vein, allowing fluid to infuse into the tissue. Finally, extravasation can result from using a needle that is too large for the patient’s vein.
The leaked fluid solutions can irritate the tissue, damage your skin, and cause painful ulcers or sores that require treatment. If too much fluid is allowed to leak into an area, extravasation can cause infections and severe local tissue and muscle damage.
The symptoms of extravasation include:
- Burning sensation and discomfort at the needle insertion site
- Pain and feeling of tightness around the infusion spot
- Swelling at the IV site
- Blistering and/or skin sloughing.
Similar to extravasation, infiltration is caused when the fluid leaks into surrounding cell tissue. The difference is the type of solution used in IV treatment. Extravasation is caused by fluids containing vesicant medications that can damage the tissue, like anti-nausea drugs, sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, calcium, or concentrated potassium chloride. Fluids that cause infiltration, on the contrary, contain non-vesicant solutions such as antibiotics, dextrose solutions, and normal saline.
The symptoms of infiltration include:
- Swelling, skin tautness, and pain around the insertion site
- Wet dressing around the venipuncture spot
- Skin blanching
- Cold and clammy skin around the infusion site.
Infiltration is a rather common complication of IV therapy. Unlike extravasation, which can have serious consequences, it doesn't usually cause much harm. In the case an infiltration takes place, the nurse will immediately stop the fluids that are infusing. This will prevent them from seeping further into the tissue surrounding the vein and causing additional swelling and pain in the area.
Air embolism is an extremely rare IV therapy complication. It occurs when an IV drip causes air bubbles to enter a vein or an artery. The air bubble can block the passage of blood and cut off the blood supply to a particular area of the body. In general, the air bubbles stop at the lungs and do little or no harm. However, in rare cases where the air reaches the brain, heart, or lungs, air embolism can cause life-threatening conditions such as a heart attack, stroke, or respiratory failure.
The symptoms of air embolism include:
- Aching joints
- Feeling of stress
- Chest pain
- Skin turning blue
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing.
Hypervolemia can take place when there is too much fluid in the bloodstream. Excessive quantities of fluid, especially salt and water that IV solutions typically contain, can speed up or slow heart rate, harm heart muscles, and increase the size of the heart. This condition can be very serious, in particular if you already have underlying health issues.
Hypervolemia treatments include limiting the intake of water, fluids, and salt, as well as administering diuretics.
The symptoms of hypervolemia include:
- Edema or swelling in neck veins, face, and wrists
- High blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- A feeling of discomfort
- Stomach cramping and bloating.
The insertion of an IV drip creates a direct path for bacteria into the bloodstream, as it bypasses the skin, which is the body's natural defense mechanism. The blood may get infected by bacteria when an IV drip is placed in an infected area of skin or when an infection from another part of the body spreads to the injection site. If the needle or skin are not properly cleaned before inserting the IV, the likelihood of infection increases. The risk of a blood infection, therefore, can be minimized with proper sterilization and hygiene.
Although it is a rare complication, an untreated bloodstream infection can progress to sepsis, a severe and often life-threatening condition. Sepsis may cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure or “septic shock” that leads to organ failure.
A blood infection is treated with hydration, low blood pressure medication, and antibiotics. In more serious cases, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.
The symptoms of bloodstream infection include:
- Pain at the venipuncture site
- Skin redness, warmth, and swelling near the IV drip
- Skin crusting or scabbing around the infusion site
- Oozing blood or pus from the spot the IV drip enters your skin
- Red streaks leading from the area
- Fever and chills
In addition to the different complications indicated above, veins and adjacent nerves can also get inadvertently damaged by the IV drip.
Can Veins Be Damaged by IV?
Yes, frequent administering of IV therapy can damage veins and cause the forming of scar tissue which can become permanent if not treated properly.
What Happens When an IV Hits a Nerve?
Nerves that surround the vein may accidentally get damaged during an IV treatment. Most nerve injuries that occur in the course of IV therapy are mild and reversible—after sustaining an injury, a nerve will usually regenerate within a few weeks. However, some nerve injuries may be severe and cause chronic problems. Fortunately, nerve damage from IV insertion is a relatively rare occurrence.
The symptoms of nerve injury include:
- Sharp pain at the needle insertion spot that persists after needle removal
- An “electric shock” feeling and sharp shooting pain up or down the arm
- Pain, tingling, and discomfort in the hand or fingertips.
Despite the potential complications involved in IV treatments, with Reset IV professional services, risks related to IV therapy are minimal.
Here is how we ensure that your IV therapy is as safe as possible.
How Reset IV Makes Sure That Your IV Therapy Treatment Goes Smoothly
All the Reset IV formulas are administered by our highly trained medical professionals who have extensive experience in administering IV therapy in hospitals and clinics. They are fully licensed in accordance with the strictest standards in the states we operate in.
To date, our medical team has administered over 12,000 IV treatments. The treatments we offer follow the protocols used in Emergency Room and Urgent Cares across the country.
Is IV hydration therapy safe?
At Reset IV, our priority is ensuring that you are receiving a treatment that meets the highest safety standards. Our nurses use a sterile solution of water, electrolytes, vitamins, and medications that are scientifically developed for intravenous therapy and tailored to your symptoms. What’s more, our top of the line sterile catheters provide blood control to help reduce the risk of blood exposure and contamination. The needles we use help maximize your comfort with low penetration force, making IV treatment a smooth process.
In addition, our physicians and nurse practitioners provide a free medical consultation and approve your treatment. They also offer recommendations based on their initial assessment.
Does an IV therapy hurt?
The needle insertion during an IV therapy is fast and virtually painless. Most of our clients report feeling nothing more than a pinch. However, we do understand that some people have a lower tolerance for pain and that you may get nervous around needles. The members of our medical team are here to reassure you, address your concerns, and answer all the questions you may have before, during, and after your IV treatment.