The Most Common Types of Fluids Used in Intravenous Therapy

Updated on December 28, 2021
The Most Common Types of Fluids Used in Intravenous Therapy

IV fluids from one patient’s bag could look identical to those in the next patient’s bag. However, the chemical composition of the two bags can vary drastically, as each patient’s needs are different. With understanding and precise attention, you can ensure these bags are given to the correct patient and administered in the proper dosing.


Saline, or normal saline, is a nonpyrogenic, sterile solution. This is one of the most common types of fluids used in intravenous therapy because it is suitable for a wide variety of conditions.

Many people know that administering normal saline can aid in most hydration needs resulting from vomiting, diarrhea, or hemorrhage. This is also the only fluid available that can coexist with the administration of blood. A brief history of intravenous therapy sheds light on fluids, blood transfusions, and the early days of postpartum hemorrhage.

Half Normal Saline

Sometimes labeled as 45 percent normal saline, half normal saline sees widespread use. The compounds of half normal saline consist of a crystalloid solution that is hypotonic from sodium chloride and dissolved in sterile waters.

The best way to remember the differences is that half normal saline possesses half of the chloride concentration of normal saline. It’s most commonly used for things like:

  • Water replacement
  • Gastric fluid loss
  • Depletion of sodium chloride


There are a few varieties of dextrose, but it is a simple sugar that is made from corn and identical to glucose. After administration, your body can use it as a rapid energy source. The three most common variations are:

  • Dextrose in saline
  • Dextrose in water
  • Dextrose in lactated ringers

Lactated Ringers

In fluid resuscitations, lactated ringers are one of the most common types of fluids used in intravenous therapy. For instances of injury or surgery, the chances of receiving lactated ringers are pretty high. Its chemical composition consists of sodium, chloride, potassium, and calcium.

The term lactated simply means it’s also a suitable solution for pediatric patients, as it contains the chemical lactate. Lactated ringers are a healthy mix of normal saline and electrolytes that are ideal for treating burn victims, dehydration, and acute blood loss. Because of the fluid’s potassium levels, it cannot be used for renal failure or renal complications of any kind.