Intravenous sugar solution
Chemical structure of dextrose
|Synonyms||dextrose solution, glucose solution|
Intravenous sugar solution, also known as dextrose solution, is a mixture of dextrose (glucose) and water. It is used to treat low blood sugar or water loss without electrolyte loss. Water loss without electrolyte loss may occur in fever, hyperthyroidism, high blood calcium, or diabetes insipidus. It is also used in the treatment of high blood potassium, diabetic ketoacidosis, and as part of parenteral nutrition. It is given by injection into a vein.
Side effects may include irritation of the vein in which it is given, high blood sugar, and swelling. Excess use may result in low blood sodium and other electrolyte problems. Intravenous sugar solutions are in the crystalloid family of medications. They come in a number of strengths including 5%, 10%, and 50% dextrose. While they may start out hypertonic they become hypotonic solutions as the sugar is metabolised. Versions are also available mixed with saline.
Dextrose solutions for medical use became available in the 1920s and 1930s. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. The wholesale cost in the developing world is about 1.00 to 1.80 USD per liter of 10% dextrose in water and it is about 0.60 to 2.40 USD per liter of 5% dextrose in normal saline. In the United Kingdom a 50 ml vial of 50% solution costs the NHS 2.01 pounds.
Administering a 5% sugar solution peri- and postoperatively usually achieves a good balance between starvation reactions and hyperglycemia caused by sympathetic activation. A 10% solution may be more appropriate when the stress response from the reaction has decreased, after approximately one day after surgery. After more than approximately 2 days, a more complete regimen of total parenteral nutrition is indicated.
In patients with hypernatremia and euvolemia, free water can be replaced using either 5% D/W or 0.45% saline.
In patients with fatty-acid oxidation disorders (FOD), 10% solution may be appropriate upon arrival to the emergency room.
Intravenous glucose is used in some Asian countries as a pick-me-up, for "energy," but is not a part of routine medical care in the United States where a glucose solution is a prescription drug. Asian immigrants to the United States are at risk if they seek intravenous glucose treatment. It may be had at store-front clinics catering to Asian immigrants, but, despite having no more effect than drinking sugared water, poses medical risks such as the possibility of infection. The procedure is commonly called "ringer."
Types of glucose/dextrose include:
- D5W (5% dextrose in water), which consists of 278 mmol/L dextrose
- D5NS (5% dextrose in normal saline), which, in addition, contains normal saline (0.9% w/v of NaCl).
- D5 1/2NS 5% dextrose in half amount of normal saline (0.45% w/v of NaCl).
- D5LR (5% dextrose in lactated Ringer solution)
- D50 - 50% dextrose in water
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Although many doctors warn Asian immigrants in New York that the effects of injecting glucose differ little from drinking sugary water, many Asians, especially of older generations, still use the intravenous solution. In their homelands, it is commonly prescribed by doctors as a method to cure colds, fevers and sometimes an upset stomach.
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