If you and the family members closest to you are healthy, you may be completely unaware of what infusion therapy even is. According to the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA), since the 1980s, at-home and specialty infusion services have made great strides towards “tremendous growth.”
Therefore, more and more of us are becoming aware of what this form of therapy is and what it can treat. So…
Infusion therapy is when a medication enters a patient’s bloodstream either through a needle or an intravenous (IV) catheter. The most common delivery systems for these medications are through an IV, an intramuscular injection, or an epidural injection (an injection that is given in the epidural space around the spinal cord), according to University Hospitals.
Generally, infusion therapy is administered in a convenient location within or near a hospital at infusion centers dedicated to these services. However, it’s becoming more and more common for specialized nurses to come to a patient’s home to administer their infusion treatment.
Likely because of the prevalence of cancer as a plot point in so many movies and television shows, when most people think of infusion therapy, they think of chemotherapy. While chemotherapy is one of the many treatments available via IV, this form of treatment isn’t just used for cancer treatments. Infusion therapy is used to treat several chronic and serious conditions.
For example, infusions are sometimes given for severe dehydration due to persistent vomiting from side effects from another medication or severe morning sickness from pregnancy. In this case, antiemetic (anti-vomiting medication) and fluids would be given to the patient.
Depending on the type of medication, it may not be possible to take it orally or it may simply be more effective for it to be given through IV therapy. For example, some treatments for chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, congestive heart failure, ulcerative colitis, and others include treatments that may be the most effective if treated through IV therapy. This can be the case for certain antibiotics, antifungals, blood clotting drugs to control a stroke, and pain management therapies as well.
The reality is that most people will have some form of infusion treatment in their lifetime as certain drugs need to enter the bloodstream quickly and/or it’s easier to merely put them into an IV if one is already placed. Whether or not infusion therapy could help you greatly depends on if you have an ailment that could benefit from it.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, a chronic condition, or have been having persistent diarrhea and vomiting either from illness or a side effect of a new medication, discuss your options with your healthcare provider. Infusion therapy may be an easier way for you to take certain medication (especially if nausea and vomiting is an issue for you with oral medications).
If it’s your first time getting an infusion, it’s important to drink plenty of water before your appointment. According to VeryWellHealth, being well hydrated makes it easier for medical staff to access a vein to either draw blood or to place an IV (or, both).
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