Intravenous (IV) insulin therapy is a method of delivering insulin directly into someone’s bloodstream. Healthcare professionals may use it to treat people with high blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar occurs when the body is unable to control blood sugar levels properly using insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Glucose is an energy source for the body. Blood sugar is another name for glucose in the blood.
High blood sugar levels can be life threatening without treatment. Doctors refer to high blood sugar levels as hyperglycemia. IV insulin therapy is a treatment for hyperglycemia.
Read on to learn more about IV insulin therapy and its possible complications.
IV insulin therapy is a treatment that healthcare professionals administer in hospitals. They use IV insulin therapy to reduce blood sugar levels in people with hyperglycemia.
IV insulin therapy involves feeding insulin directly into someone’s bloodstream through a thin tube in a vein. This extra insulin encourages the body’s cells to absorb excess glucose in the bloodstream.
IV insulin therapy is a
- diabetic ketoacidosis
- hyperosmolar states
- medical or surgical critical care
- heart conditions, such as myocardial infarction or cardiogenic shock
- organ transplant
- high dose glucocorticoid therapy
- feeding via tube or IV
Doctors traditionally only used regular human insulin — a synthetic form of insulin — in IV insulin therapy.
However, any form of insulin becomes fast acting when using IV injections.
A doctor may consider the following factors when determining the right type of insulin for IV insulin therapy:
- the type of condition or disease
- the duration of IV insulin therapy
- the type of insulin someone will need after completing IV insulin therapy
IV insulin enters straight into the bloodstream and
IV insulin therapy involves inserting a thin tube, which doctors refer to as a catheter, into the arm. The doctor will attach the catheter with a needle that goes directly into a vein. The catheter is also attached to a bag that contains insulin and other liquids, such as saline.
The amount of time a person requires IV insulin therapy can depend on their blood sugar levels. IV insulin therapy can last anywhere between
Doctors refer to abnormally low blood sugar levels as hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can cause other health problems.
People receiving IV insulin treatment will need to transition to subcutaneous insulin after their blood sugar levels become normal. Proper care is necessary during this process to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
The point when a person may transition from IV insulin therapy to subcutaneous insulin may depend on:
- the severity of their condition
- whether they were using insulin before the IV insulin treatment
- when they can orally consume food again
A 2016 study states someone should receive
The protocol for determining how much IV insulin a person should receive can vary among hospitals. Information from the
- appropriate blood sugar targets
- time frame available for treatment
- ease and practicality of monitoring
- clarity of the monitoring instructions
- risk of hypoglycemia
- the plan for transitioning to subcutaneous insulin
The organization also suggests that optimal blood sugar levels should be between 140–180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) for most people. However, some people may require a lower blood sugar level of 110–140 mg/dl.
IV insulin therapy can carry certain risks, such as hypoglycemia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- shakiness or jitters
- dizziness, lightheadedness, or confusion
- rapid or unstable heartbeat
- inability to see or speak clearly
- loss of consciousness
Healthcare professionals use IV insulin therapy to treat people with hyperglycemia. The condition can be due to diabetes or other problems, such as heart disease.
IV insulin therapy involves supplying insulin directly into the bloodstream through a catheter. Healthy blood sugar levels are between 140–180 mg/dl for most people. However, some people require lower levels than this. Doctors will carefully monitor for hypoglycemia during IV insulin therapy.