Intravenous (IV) therapy is becoming increasingly common as a supportive treatment for supporting overall health. There are many reasons you might be coming in for IV therapy, including energy support, replenishing vitamin/mineral deficiencies, or helping to improve cancer outcomes. Despite the various reasons you may be coming in for an IV visit, the good news is that the preparation stays the same.
Below are some tips that will make the process smoother and help you feel your best both during and after your IV treatment:
- The more hydrated you are when you arrive for your IV, the more dilated your veins will be, which may make it easier to access them to initiate treatment. Although hydration is best in the form of water, other good hydration sources to consume ahead of time include herbal teas or electrolyte drinks. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these can reduce your overall hydration status.
- Arrive to your IV appointment fueled up with food. Receiving IV therapy on an empty stomach increases the risk of an adverse experience such as nausea or vomiting. In addition to ensuring you tolerate the treatment as best as possible, having a meal stimulates the “rest and digest” activity of the nervous system, which further dilates your blood vessels. Please ensure you have eaten within 3 hours of your scheduled appointment.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
- Choose to wear something comfortable that allows for easy access to your inner elbow, forearm, and hands. For example, wearing a short-sleeved shirt will allow for quick and easy assessment for vein selection and IV insertion. Additionally, choose comfortable pants that can be easily maneuvered should you require any trips to the bathroom during your IV.
- The time for each IV therapy varies based on the volume of infusion you are receiving. These can range from anywhere between 45 minutes to three hours. Some people spend this time taking a nap while others bring a book to read, headphones to listen to a podcast or meditation, or a tablet to play a game or watch a show. Choose whichever form of entertainment that best serves you - this is your time.
- Have you ever been told to avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting after having your blood taken? The same goes for any IV treatment. If you have exercise planned for the day of your IV treatment, please make sure to do it beforehand. This can also help to increase circulation and dilate veins prior to IV insertion.
Optimize your Headspace
- Take a few slow, deep belly breaths to calm your mind and body once you are comfortably seated in your chair waiting to be hooked up. Intentional breathing will help ground yourself and release any nervous tension you may have. It is normal to be nervous around needles and IVs - this is not something to be embarrassed about. Share your concerns with your IV provider as they are there to support you and help you feel at ease.
Author: Brynn Alexander, CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre Intern