B12 Injections / IV Infusions

What is B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in animal-based foods, such as meats and milk. A proper level of this vitamin is necessary to the body in order to maintain adequate brain function as well as red blood cell and protein creation. Injections of vitamin B12, otherwise known as cyanocobalamin, can be considered when the body is not receiving what it needs naturally.

A deficiency in vitamin B12 may be found in persons with a diet limited in animal foods (such as vegans), or those with medical ailments affecting vitamin absorption. However, trouble absorbing this vitamin can occur in just about anyone. Among others who might consider B12 injections are those who suffer from pernicious anemia, due to their difficulty maintaining proper red blood cell counts.

What to expect

When you receive injections of B12 in your doctor’s office, your doctor will have considered the amount of the vitamin that is appropriate for you. Because body sizes and individual deficiencies can vary, there is not a standard dosage per syringe.

Before receiving the injections, the medical team will have checked the vial for loose particles or discoloration. Subpar medicine will be discarded. As with any injection you receive, you will be asked to roll up your sleeve, as injections are typically given in the upper arm. The doctor or nurse will be wearing gloves and may tap your arm to locate the muscle. The site of the injection will be prepped with alcohol to clean the site. The medical professional administering the shot may pinch the skin around the site and inject the liquid from the syringe either intramuscularly or subcutaneously. After the injection, the needle will be disposed of in a sharps container. If necessary, a bandage may be applied to the site. You will be able to go home immediately.

Side effects are not common, and cyanocobalamin is considered to be a safe alternative for vitamin intake for those having trouble doing so naturally. As with any injection, you may notice pain, swelling, or redness at the site of the injection. There is also a chance of mild diarrhea. If such discomfort does not subside in a reasonable amount of time, contact your doctor.

During the time you are taking B12 injections, you will likely need blood tests often for monitoring levels in your blood.

How to prepare

It is important to consult with your physician before considering Vitamin B12 injections, as they should not be used if you have Leber’s disease (because of an increased risk for damage to the optic nerve) or any deficiencies or allergies, especially to cobalt.

If pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to us first to determine whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

What is an IV infusion?

Some medications are best administered to your system intravenously, or through an IV. The most common reason for IV treatments to quickly infuse liquids to the body, either to replace natural elements that have been lost or to introduce substances that help to balance the body’s internal needs. Such liquids would not be able to enter the body’s system as quickly as needed if taken orally. IV use could also be needed when there are gastrointestinal complications leading to the need for the liquid to bypass the stomach.

What to expect

In order to start an IV, a small catheter must be inserted into the vein to allow access for the tubes that will transport the medicine or other liquid. Most often, the vein selected for the procedure will be in the patient’s arm (just below the elbow), the back of the patient’s hand, or in some circumstances, in the patient’s foot. Some procedures require a central line for the infusion in a vein near the heart. If the infusions will be taking place on a regular basis, the catheter (or port) will be introduced in a way that will allow it to remain in the body as long as needed and accessed at the time of the infusion.

A patient receiving an infusion will most likely remain in a sitting position on the table and will not necessarily need to change into a hospital gown. In most cases, the medical professional will examine both arms to see if there is a vein that appears prominent. Arms may be tapped with two fingers for a better view. The spot for the needle may be marked with a pen to help another professional find the best site. After the site is selected, a hollow needle is inserted directly into the vein. The needle is normally taped to the skin to make it more stable and is attached to additional tubing. The tubing is attached to a bag of liquid, called the drip, and usually hung above the patient’s head to insure continuous flow. A nozzle at the base of the bag can be used to adjust the amount of liquid that flows through the tube as well.

How to prepare

Once the IV is inserted, there shouldn’t be a great deal of discomfort. However, if you are concerned about the insertion, speak with your doctor ahead of time to see what relaxation procedures should be taken. Because infusions can be used for a number of different medicines, your doctor will inform you if there are any medications from which you should abstain before the procedure.

Risks for IV infusions are fairly minimal, however, there is always a small risk of infection. When you have an infusion in a medical setting, these complications can be detected and resolved quickly.

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