Have you ever thought, What’s in my IV fluid?

Graham Walsh

With IV therapy being an extremely common part of medical care, each patient is likely to receive different types of IV fluid. In fact, up to 90 per cent of hospitalised patients receive an IV. Each patient’s IV fluid is selected based on their specific treatment plan. Because of the wide variety of IV solutions, patients may not fully understand what they receive through their IV.

There are three types of IV fluids:

  • Isotonic
  • Hypotonic
  • Hypertonic


Isotonic IV Fluids are used to increase fluid volume due to blood loss, surgery, or dehydration. There are many different types of common isotonic fluids, such as Normal Saline (0.9% NaCl, NS), 5% Dextrose in Water (D5W) and Lactated Ringer’s Solution (LR).

Hypotonic IV fluids such as 0.45% /0.225% Normal Saline and 2.5% Dextrose are designed to bring fluid from the bloodstream into the cells and tissues to help in body waste excretion. In other words, they are commonly used to help patients avoid dehydration.

Hypertonic IV fluids such as Saline Solutions: >0.9%, 3%/5% NaCl, Dextrose 5% in 0.9% & 0.45% Normal Saline usually contain dextrose, a simple sugar made from corn, can be used at higher rates to treat diabetics going through severe hypoglycemia (a condition in which your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than normal) and are used to shift fluids into the bloodstream to dilute electrolytes (essential minerals—like sodium, calcium, and potassium that are vital to many key functions in the body).

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No stone has been left unturned, and you now have your own online user log in to view your Trust, hospitals and departments’ Pharmacy fluid performance and service data.

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