A quick reference to the difference between these three common IV solutions.
0.9 Normal Saline is the most common IV fluid used in the hospital and critical situation. It is an Isotonic solution meaning that it does not force fluid in or out of the cells. It has the same salt concentration as the cellular fluid, thus no diffusion, osmosis or transport of the fluid in or out of the cells occurs in drastic fashion. It is normally used in patients who need fluid replacement, patients in danger of developing dehydration or hypovalemia (A low blood fluid volume).
D5W IV solution contains Dextrose. It is also used as a primary treatment for pateints in need of fluid replacement. It differs from the normal saline solution in the fact that it also supplies the patients body with a small amount of sugar and calories. This is not really enough sugar to provide adequate energy, but may be beneficial to those patients who are diabetic and need a steady influx of sugar. If a patient has uncontrolled high blood glucose, D5W solution is not for them.
Lactated Ringers are another type of IV solution. They are also Isotonic (as the NS solution mentioned previously) and serve as a fluid replacement for the body. Unlike the Normal Saline solution, the Lactated Ringer solution contains sodium, calcium and potassium (normal electrolytes). Supplying the body with normal electrolytes can help replenish a deficit from a burn, major blood loss, or surgery. They help restore and maintain the body’s electrolyte level which is also known as fluid resuscitation. Lactated ringers are common in emergency situations.