I honestly didn’t know this was a thing, until I saw a popular Nigerian singer’s status saying she goes for weekly intravenous drips. In her words ‘IV every week’.
These IV bags contain fluids, vitamins and even medicines like Gluthatione. The claim is that this therapy helps relieve stress, rids the body of toxins, balances hormones, boosts immunity and gives a healthier skin.
In short the therapy helps you glow, keeping you ageless.
Indeed it is not only our local Nigerian celebrities that patronise this procedure, reports have it that international acts like Rihanna and Simon Cowell are also patrons.
In my years of practice in Nigeria I haven’t come across this practice so I became genuinely interested. Some questions immediately popped into my head.
- Is the procedure medically recognized?
- If yes what are the indications for it
- How safe is it?
- What are the associated risks if any ?
Is IV Therapy a medically recognized Procedure?
IV therapy (the act of giving intravenous fluids through the veins) or as Nigerians call it, ‘drip’ is a medically recognized procedure. It is used to replace fluids and electrolytes that have been lost or will be lost due to an illness or surgical condition.
Any illness where the body’s fluids or electrolytes have been lost or need to be replaced is an indication for IV therapy, examples include severe dehydration and burns.
However, there is no routine indication for giving IV vitamins weekly to a healthy person as a means of ‘maintenance’. So the practice is not medically recognized for this purpose.
But how did this practice start?
It started sometime in 2012 when an American medical entrepreneur set up mobile units to treat hangovers in hotels.
Does the body routinely need Iv therapy? The simple answer is No. When you are dehydrated you don’t need to stick a needle in your body, simply drink water. Except of course the dehydration is severe like in cholera where IV fluids have to be rapidly administered.
What about vitamins? Most of our vegetables and fruits have the natural amounts of vitamins you need.
What are the risks involved?
IV therapy has risks even when it is genuinely indicated. Some of the risks include introducing air into the person’s veins. This is potentially life threatening. Another risk is getting fluid into the tissues instead of the veins.
Also, some of these fluids contain sodium (salt), this can potentially increase one’s blood pressure if not administered by a professional. The fluids can also cause an imbalance in the body’s electrolytes.
There’s also a risk of infection at the site of cannulation
Why is the practice getting popular?
The bandwagon effect. People tend to jump onto badwagons especially those that give a certain class distinction without fully understanding the pros and cons.
The procedure is essentially a waste of time and money.
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