How Long Do IV Fluids Stay in the Body?

Our bodies consist of between 60 and 75 percent water, meaning good hydration is vital to good health. Dehydration, on the other hand, poses serious and sometimes fatal health risks. While drinking a lot of water is the typical solution for dehydration, the process of absorption is slow and inefficient.

IV drip infusions are the fastest way to rehydrate and regain lost electrolytes. Although formerly only used for patients who were sick and dehydrated, IV therapy is now widely used by people looking to boost their athletic performance, improve their health, get over a hangover, and many other everyday needs. IV therapy delivers fluids, electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins that help replenish your body.

But how long do these IV fluids stay in your body, and what happens when they wear off? How long does IV hydration last—and for that matter, how long does an IV therapy session last? The sections below provide answers to these questions.

How Long Do IV Fluids Stay in the Body?

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IV fluids generally remain in the body for a couple of hours after absorption. That said, the nutrients and minerals in the fluids may remain in your body for days, weeks, or even months, depending on your body's needs and the type of IV infusion you receive.

Factors Influencing How Long IV Fluids Remain in Your System 

The duration of IV fluids after therapy varies according to the individual. Vital factors and biological processes that affect how long IV fluids remain in the body include your hydration level, metabolic rate, and overall health.

Certain biological processes and illnesses affect how long IV fluid remains in your body. Conditions like kidney failure, diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive sweating cause you to lose lots of water in a very short time, resulting in dehydration. Medications and beverages that contain diuretics can also lead to dehydration.

Keep in mind IV fluid therapy is not recommended for individuals with certain conditions. Your nurse will take your medical history and ask for a list of any current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications you take to determine whether IV therapy is right for you.

The Role of Hydration Levels and Metabolic Rate in IV Fluid Retention 

Hydration Level

Your base hydration level is the primary factor in how long your body retains IV fluid. If adequately hydrated, your body quickly passes the IV fluids it doesn't need. However, if you receive an IV fluid infusion while dehydrated, your body will retain most of the IV fluid since it only eliminates what it doesn't need. 

Metabolic Rate

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) can be defined as the number of calories your body burns while performing basic life-sustaining functions. Most Americans’ BMR ranges between 1400 and 2000, meaning most people only need 1400 to 2000 calories per day to fuel their body's essential functions when at rest.

Your BMR affects the rate at which your body absorbs nutrients from fluids. It also affects how quickly the excess fluids are passed through your system. People with a high metabolic rate typically absorb nutrients and pass fluids from IV therapy faster than those with a low metabolic rate, which can be associated with old age or weight gain.

The Lifespan of IV Fluids: What to Expect After Infusion 

Even before your IV infusion is completed, you should feel the effects and experience some symptom relief. The body generally absorbs all IV fluids in about two hours and passes them several hours afterward. However, even though the IV fluids pass relatively quickly, the benefits of the absorbed nutrients can last for months. 

The reason for your IV treatment can also affect the duration of the IV fluids. For instance, the longevity of a hangover relief infusion differs from that of an immune booster or athletic supplement. A hangover recovery package should provide prompt relief, while IV treatments with long-term goals may require regular sessions to reach peak performance. 

Maximizing Benefits: What Happens After IV Fluids Leave Your Body?

IV therapy delivers water, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins at a controlled rate. The procedure typically lasts between 45 minutes to an hour. Most patients feel the effects almost immediately, though severe dehydration can slow down the process. The effects may last from a few hours to a few days after the infusion. Even after the IV fluids leave your body, you still benefit from the absorbed nutrients.

Our qualified medical staff will provide detailed information about how to maximize the benefits of your treatment based on the therapy package you choose.

Can You Retain Too Much Water from an IV Treatment?

Your body generally passes excess fluids after it takes what it needs. However, too much IV fluid in your system can result in hypervolemia, also known as fluid overload, especially if you have other underlying conditions; however, according to one study, this is more associated with post-surgery risks. 

It’s essential to note that hypervolemia can only occur during the infusion process. Afterward, all excess fluids leave your body through normal metabolic processes.

How Long Does Swelling Last After IV Fluids?

Swelling generally occurs when IV fluid leaks out of the vein into the surrounding soft tissue. The common signs of IV fluid leakage include inflammation, pain around the IV site, and skin tightness. Swelling generally subsides after a few days if the site is not infected.

If you swell up after an IV fluid infusion, you can treat the inflammation by:

  • Elevating the IV site as much as possible. This helps disperse the fluid and reduce swelling faster.
  • Applying a cold or warm compress for 30 minutes every two to three hours after the infusion.
  • Medication. If the IV fluid is vesicant (irritating the tissues), your doctor may recommend medication 24 hours after the infusion.

IV Fluids vs. Oral Hydration: Comparing Absorption and Retention

Your body retains and passes IV fluids differently than the fluids you obtain by drinking. The benefits of IV drip hydration include:

  • Providing water and other essential nutrients directly to your bloodstream, making them more accessible to your tissues and organs.
  • Unlike drinking, IV drip infusions don't force water through your digestive tract. This means you retain the minerals and electrolytes that would otherwise be lost to the digestive process.

All beverages, including water, must pass through your digestive system at a static rate, meaning its movement can’t be slowed once swallowed. Moreover, the minerals and nutrients in swallowed fluids can be partially eliminated or compromised by your digestive system. 

Since IV fluids are injected directly into the bloodstream, the nutrients bypass the digestive system and cannot be destroyed by the acids in your stomach. You'll also see the benefits much quicker than drinking since nutrients aren’t absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract.

While IV fluids hydrate your body far more quickly and effectively than drinking water, there is no reason you cannot drink water or tea during your IV session. Consuming fluids by mouth will not make a difference in your hydration level but can prove relaxing during your therapy. 

Addressing Common Questions: Duration and Effects of IV Therapy 

How long does IV therapy last?

Expect your IV therapy session to last between 45 minutes and an hour. That time frame includes the nurse’s examination and preparation, including answering any questions you have about IV therapy. Bear in mind that sessions vary depending on the patient’s needs. Some therapy packages take less time, while others might last as long as 90 minutes.

How long does IV hydration last?

You should begin experiencing the benefits of IV hydration therapy before your session is completed. For instance, if you opted for IV therapy due to fatigue, you should feel more alert and energetic before your treatment ends. 

If you have specific health goals in mind, such as athletic performance, schedule your IV therapy treatments every two weeks to keep your nutrient levels elevated and maintain stabilization. 

The Bottom Line

Although IV fluids remain in your body for a few hours, their benefits last long after the fluids have been passed. IV hydration therapy offers a more efficient way to get rehydrated than drinking water or energy drinks, providing a safe, effective solution for needs ranging from hangover recovery to immune system support. 

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