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What is an Infusion?

Infusion is a procedure of delivering medications or other fluids directly into your vein. The procedure, also called intravenous (IV) administration, is performed using a needle or catheter that is inserted into the vein.

Where are Infusions Performed?

Infusion is mostly performed in a hospital or other health care setting. However, it can also be done at outpatient infusion therapy centers or the patient’s home. Home infusion has been proven to be a convenient, safe and effective alternative to inpatient infusion.

Indications for Infusions

Patients who cannot take medication orally or those whose condition is so severe that periodic oral or injectable treatments are not effective are the prime candidates for IV infusion.

Usually, an infusion is recommended in cases of:

  • Severe dehydration
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Chronic infections that are unresponsive to oral antibiotics
  • Serious diseases (diabetes, cancer, renal failure or arthritis)
  • Nutritional (vitamins, minerals, etc.) deficiencies

Types of Infusions

There are different types of infusion available depending on your condition. They include but are not limited to:

  • Infusion for hydration: Dextrose, sodium chloride, etc. are used to restore fluids and electrolytes in your body.
  • Antibiotics, antifungals or antiviral infusions: Helps in fighting and destroying microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi or viruses.
  • Immunoglobulin infusion: Proteins present in the serum and cells of the immune system, which function as antibodies and fight infections, are delivered through the vein.
  • Infusion of bisphosphonates: Certain drugs are delivered through the vein to limit or prevent loss of bone density that occurs during osteoporosis or bone cancer.
  • Chemotherapy infusion: Chemical substances like cytotoxins (toxic to living cells) and other drugs are infused into your body to treat cancer.
  • Iron infusion: This is usually performed to treat anemia caused by iron deficiency.
  • Infusion of total parenteral nutrition (TPN): Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are injected intravenously to meet calorie requirements.
  • Vitamin infusion: Vitamins and minerals administered intravenously may boost energy levels, stimulate the immune system and help with stress, jetlag and sleep problems.
  1. These nutrients can also be administered for conditions such as hypertension, fatigue, depression, migraines, fibromyalgia (widespread pain), diabetes, hepatitis, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, cancer, and other disorders.
  2. Vitamin B and vitamin C, when infused, may be able to treat a wide range of clinical conditions; from acute asthma attacks to cardiovascular disease.

Preparing for an Infusion

Receiving an infusion requires some preparation for you to be comfortable during and after the procedure. Therefore, before the infusion you are expected to:

  • Properly hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water
  • Make some extra effort into getting quality sleep and rest
  • Abstain from eating after midnight the night before the infusion, if applicable
  • You may need to bring a friend or family member who can drive you to the infusion location and back

During the infusion, you will need to sit in a chair and not move around. It’s a good idea to have a book or magazine or other items to pass the time.

Infusion Procedure

Infusion is a simple procedure during which you will be asked to sit or lie down. The vein at the infusion site, typically your arm, is located. A nurse will disinfect the skin over the site prior to inserting a needle or catheter into the vein and then connect the medication or fluid bag or bottle to the infusion site. The length and the frequency of infusion depend on the type and dose of medication required and varies for different medications.

Benefits of Infusion

Benefits can be long-lasting and include but are not limited to the following:

  • Fast acting, as medicines or fluids are delivered directly into your bloodstream
  • Ensures 100% bioavailability of medications by bypassing the digestive system
  • Reduces time spent in hospitals, clinics or healthcare centers
  • Helps you return to work or daily activities fast with less risk of infection