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What are IV fluids?

IV fluids are liquids injected into a person’s veins through an IV (intravenous) tube. They prevent or treat dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Why are intravenous fluids used?

Water is essential to every cell in our bodies. In fact, our bodies are made up of about 60% water. When you don’t have enough water in your body, that’s called dehydration. A person needs IV fluids when they become dangerously dehydrated.

Serious dehydration may occur when you:

  • Are sick (vomiting and diarrhea).

  • Exercise too much or spend too much time in the heat without drinking enough.

  • Have a serious injury or burns.

  • Have surgery, especially when you’re asleep for a long time or are unable to eat or drink.

What are the effects of dehydration?

When you are dehydrated, it can affect:

  • Balance of important minerals (electrolytes) in the body.

  • Cognitive (mental) performance.

  • Energy level.

  • Gastrointestinal function (your ability to digest food and create pee and poop).

  • Headache frequency and intensity.

  • Many organs, including the kidneys, heart and brain.

  • Physical performance.

  • Skin health.

Signs of severe dehydration include:

  • Dizziness.

  • Dry eyes (no tears).

  • Dry lips and tongue.

  • Dry, wrinkly or blotchy skin.

  • Fatigue (feeling tired).

  • Fast breathing.

  • Hands and feet that are cool to the touch or blotchy looking.

  • Less pee than usual (fewer than four times per day).

  • Pee that is dark yellow and smells strong.

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