Most people think of intravenous rehydration (more commonly called an IV) as a scary tool with a sharp needle that is often used at hospitals for severe medical cases; however, an IV can be used for something as minor as moderate dehydration. More commonly used for children than adults, the IV typically consists of water with some salt or sugar added. Knowing what an IV does and when it’s required can be important to calm your child if he or she ever needs one.

When is an IV required?

Dehydration occurs when a person loses fluids from their body. The fluids lost contain water and dissolved salts, also referred to as electrolytes. If your child suffers from a mild case of dehydration, he or she should drink water and fluids that are full of electrolytes (sports drinks are great). However, moderate to severe cases of dehydration will most likely require IV rehydration.

How does an IV work?

A nurse or doctor will normally administer the IV to your child by inserting the IV line into a vein in his or her arm. This line will be attached to a bag of fluids – the contents of which will be determined by your child’s doctor – on the other end. The amount of fluid will be regulated by the doctor or nurse and will enter your child’s bloodstream via an automated pump or adjustable valve.

Are there risks associated with an IV?

The risks associated with an IV are very low for most people and most often the benefits outweigh the risks. There is a minor risk of infection at the injection site any time an IV is administered. While even more minor, there is also a risk of the vein collapsing if the IV remains in it for an extended period of time. However, a knowledgeable nurse or doctor will know to move the needle to a different vein.

If your child is displaying signs of moderate or severe dehydration, he or she should receive medical attention immediately. At Medical City Children’s Urgent Care, our technicians are highly qualified and will treat your child with the utmost care.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.