Intravenous (IV) drugs generally are medicines administered through a blood vessel, typically for sedation or anesthesia. Steroids are sometimes used as intravenous drugs to reduce inflammation and swelling caused by certain medical conditions. Some patients who are unable to take oral medication may be given antibiotics intravenously. Certain intravenous drugs are given to patients who suffer from seizures. These anti-seizure medications are commonly referred to as anticonvulsants and may include pregabalin, valproic acid or lamotrigene.
Cancer patients will often be given high doses of chemotherapy to kill cancerous cells within the body. Intravenous drugs, such as Taxol®, are used in chemotherapy treatment. This form of intravenous therapy may help destroy cancer cells actively reproducing inside the body.
Many patients who suffer from an ongoing illness that causes chronic or widespread pain will rely on intravenous drugs for pain management. Pain-killing narcotics may be given through an IV injection. One common pain-killing drug often administered through the circulatory system via an IV line is morphine. There is a potential for drug addiction among individuals given morphine, so careful dosing is crucial.
Many types of antibiotics are used as intravenous drugs, including penicillin. This may be used to treat patients with staphylococcus or streptococcus infections, as well as other bacterial infections. Other antibiotics that may be given intravenously include cefalexin and erythromycin. Antibiotics will only destroy bacteria and are not used to treat viral infections.
In certain cases of very severe viral infections, such as elderly or chronically ill influenza patients, intravenous drugs may be administered. The type of intravenous drugs used to destroy viruses are known as antiviral medications. For patients who are severely ill and too weakened to take this medication orally, an IV solution may be administered.
Women in labor may be given what is commonly referred to as an epidural. This analgesic, or pain killer, may be administered by injection, using a needle and catheter. Intravenous fluids are often given to the patient prior to receiving this procedure. Other IV medications may be given during labor in addition to the epidural.