My History with IV Therapy
Being someone who has several chronic illnesses its easy to say that I've tried a lot of things over the years to decrease my symptoms and generally live a better life. This one fits into the first category: attempted for potential symptom relief.
I first tried IV therapy, or a version of it, after reading about several studies that had linked regular IV saline infusions to fewer symptoms for people with dysautonomia. The thought was that it increased the blood volume and therefore decreased the hypovolemia related symptoms such as low blood pressure and dizziness. I was having a horrible symptom day as I was getting a cold (typically any illness contracted will increase symptoms for those with dysautonomia) and decided that a trip to my local Urgent Care was in order. I had just moved and was dreading going through my health history spiel- because by this point it was down pat, let's be honest- and praying that I would be believed without my records because I needed to get ahead of whatever I had before I went into a full spiral and was out of work for a week. I was in for a surprise... for the first time that I could remember a doctor actually knew what my condition was, or at least had a general, broad picture, understanding. It was a huge relief... and then she asked me what I wanted her to do. I hadn't expected that but decided that on top of the meds she was going to give me if I came back positive for strep or etc. I wanted to at least see if an IV drip would help as much as everyone said it would. It did, but as the research was mostly anecdotal and no long term studies had come out at that point I reserved going in to ask that doctor for assistance for times that I truly needed the boost. Eventually the doctor moved on and I was no longer able to get saline at that clinic any more due to management deeming it a waste of resources. A few years later I was doing better medically than I had been in those earlier years but came across a story about a 'new' trend: people hiring clinics to come in post bachelor party for a quick IV to get past their hangovers. It sounded a lot like the IV saline infusions that I had been using before but with the addition of vitamins, something that a few of the bloggers had mentioned in their posts about treatment but that I never tried myself.
I couldn't find a clinic nearby that offered a service that was both nearby and affordable for me to utilize, especially as it is outside of insurance, so I moved on with life and forgot all about it. Then I got an advertisement online for a new clinic that was opening and offering special discounts for new patients. My dysautonomia symptoms hadn't been flaring but I'd been having an increase of migraines so decided that maybe I'd give it a try. A couple of days later I had another advertisement for yet another clinic doing the same thing. Two clinics within a half hour or so of my new place... if it was affordable it could be a godsend during a flare! I decided to give both of them a shot, several weeks apart, to see what the clinics were like as well as if I felt any of the symptom relief their packages claimed to help with. I'll be reviewing the clinics themselves in a future post (soon, I'm actively working on them now!) but want to take the rest of this post to talk about what this treatment is that many would consider alternative, helpful, medicine and others would avoid as a scam.
What Is IV Therapy?
IV Therapy is just like it sounds: you go to a clinic (or they come to you in some cases) where, depending on the condition you wish to treat- from hangovers to migraines to performance enhancement- they will select a variety of vitamins and minerals to add to a saline bag that is hooked up to an IV for you. Simple and quick care. In some cases the doctor on call (if there is one at the clinic) will even be able to add certain medications to the bag such as Zofran for nausea or Toradol for inflammation.
What Does It Help Treat?
IV Therapy is advertised as being able to treat many different things: from an immune boost if you think you are coming down with a cold to migraine relief to anti-aging. Clinics in my area are currently advertising:
Do I believe it can help with all the things that it is advertised as being able to do? Simply: no. While I do believe that being well hydrated and having all the micro-nutrients that your body needs will result in overall better health I don't believe it is the cure for all ills. I had a great experience with the hydration aspect of the therapy both before these trials and during and would even say I had a great experience with feeling overall better mood and energy for a couple of days after my treatments but I'm leery of the 'too good to be true' advertising that is being pushed. Going in for electrolyte replenishment after a night of partying or a boost of vitamins when you feel you are coming down with a cold is likely safe and helpful but claims of anti-aging and some of the more intensive treatments... more research needs to be done before I will fully buy into it.
That being said, I did enjoy my treatments. The clinics featured staffs that were very attentive, had massage chairs (and who doesn't like a massage), the process was quick and I left feeling refreshed. On one occasion I went in when I had several signs that I would be getting a migraine soon and chose the migraine relief option. The rest of the day was productive and the migraine never came. It was pretty cool actually. Another time I went in for just a general hydration plus vitamin package that was being offered as part of the "Grand Opening" of a clinic. I generally felt really good for several days after that treatment as well. I can't be 100% sure that I didn't catch the cold that was going around the office because of the treatment but I almost always get whatever cold is going around the office... its kinda just part of having the medical file I do, and I skipped this one. Also a cool perk if the treatment was the reason.
I don't think that it will be something that makes it into my regular schedule outside of occasional pick me ups or for cutting off a migraine before it gets really bad though. My budget simply won't allow it. The cheapest package I found in my area was $99/month for one treatment of their lowest tier. For the Migraine one it would be $150/month if I wanted to do one monthly. The other location started at the $149 for a monthly pass but included two IVs at their lowest tier for that price. If I went with their membership it would cost me $249/month for the tier that included the Migraine relief option. This would be about $125 per bag which is a is slightly cheaper than the first location but locks me into a higher price point monthly. Both locations included a few added perks like additional discounts on more IVs, cheaper add ons, and etc. if you had a monthly pass so if this was going to be in my normal routine it would likely be a good idea to go this route. They also have single IVs though for a slightly higher rate if you don't want a pass but rather just to come in occasionally (which I personally appreciate). I do understand that this is essentially concierge medicine and, as such, is more expensive... but I can't make that fit into my life currently and as the long term benefits are not well understood or proven I need to allocate my medical spending elsewhere.
I will likely do IV therapy again in the future but it will be infrequent at its current price point and research level. Next up... reviews of the facility if you are interested in trying out one for yourself and are in the Fort Worth area.
Until next time,