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Female migrainer holding onto IV bag with a morose look on her face.

IV Hydration Therapy: An Approach for Migraine Treatment

I was at a fundraiser recently and at the silent auction, I noticed a unique item: an IV Hydration Therapy Session. I’d never heard of the approach, but the description suggested it could be useful for people with migraines. I bid on it and won.

I did some research on the approach before I made the appointment. Interestingly, the treatment is popping up at various places around the United States, often at day spas. An IV Hydration Therapy Session typically uses a saline solution and also delivers vitamins and minerals.

IV fluids for dehydration

In the hospital emergency department or other medical settings, IV treatments can be used when patients present with migraine. Of course, an IV is an excellent way to deliver necessary medications. Migrainuers are frequently dehydrated due to nausea and vomiting and therefore the simple IV injection of fluids can help to rebalance the system.

IV hydration for chronic fatigue, menopause, and fibromyalgia

At these various locations, there are different infusions and hydration therapies including various ingredients depending on the need of the patient and can help those experiencing: Chronic Fatigue, menopause and PMS Symptoms, and fibromyalgia, among others.

What’s in IV hydration?

magnesium, B-12, Vitamin C and essential minerals. If the day spa has a doctor on staff, they can mix prescription migraine medications into the IV (like Toradol and Zofran).

My appointment started with nausea

When I arrived for my appointment, I was experiencing a migraine attack at a level 5. I was able to talk, but I was uncomfortable walking briskly and had low-grade nausea. The nurse added Toradol to the treatment. She was fabulous with the IV as this is something she does every day. The IV bag was set to run slowly (over the course of about 50 minutes). The room was dark, with calm music playing.

Focusing on my breath

I sat quietly and focused on my breathing. Before I knew it, the treatment was over. My pain was down to a 2, my nausea had faded and I was on my way. As someone with chronic migraine, I normally take a rescue medication in the early afternoon. That day, I didn’t need to take any rescue medication until 7 hours later, and the dosage was much lower.

As the day went on and into the next I noticed a lift in my energy; nothing extreme, just a light feeling – a spring in my step. The nurse checked in with me the next day to see how I was feeling and to remind me that I was welcome to return anytime for a treatment.

No more emergency department!

What I didn’t realize is that I can go to their practice (rather than to the Emergency Department) to have an IV infusion tailor-made to my needs any time during their office hours. I know I’m not alone in feeling anxiety at the simple thought of having to go to the Emergency Department. The experience, which I’ve had repeatedly, is extraordinarily stressful. It is a place I try to avoid, between having to wait many hours to be seen; being accused of being a drug seeker; and, often being given medications that only sedate rather than address the migraine.

Finding another option for this level of treatment has provided much relief. While they aren’t open 24-hours, I can generally tell when I’m trending toward a dangerous direction with my pain. So in the future, I will be making an appointment with this practice when I need to interrupt a significant pain cycle.

An important note: Always check with your physician to make sure IV Hydration treatment is right for you. Not every approach is right for everyone.

Have you heard of IV hydration treatment before? You might do a google search to see if there are practitioners in your area in case you are interested in learning more.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • MidrinMan
    2 months ago

    My daughter had IV treatment with phenergin in past years. It seemed to help.

    I had to make an appointment. They wouldn’t commit to a time but said they would call back.

    They called back and said I “missed the appointment”. She “had a conversation with me”. Nope. I called over 100 numbers similar to mine. I found the retired couple vacationing in Arizona who found the message from the healthcare provider. Wondering why they called.

    She lied to me.

    I tried going to urgent care. I needed to make an “appointment” for “urgent” care. Apparently you need to anticipate your urgent needs? Anyhow, they were too busy.

    On another day, they closed early because there weren’t enough customers. Wouldn’t stay open to accommodate my arrival. I was out of luck.

    This IV therapy is a good idea. I am chronically dehydrated. Drinking water (when I could keep it down) has helped me through disorientation and loss of vision.

    Around here you’re on your own.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Your story of attempting to seek out care and treatment sounds incredibly frustrating and troubling. I’m so sorry to hear how hard it has been to secure treatment. I’m not sure where you’re from- or whether or not you’d be interested in finding a new specialist? If so, this link has a list of migraine specialists, depending on your location:https://migraine.com/blog/the-mrf-directory-of-headache-and-migraine-specialists/

    Dehydration is a serious issue that can both result from, AND drive further migraine attacks. It can be so hard to get a handle on if nausea and vomiting are an issue.

    Glad you’re a part of our community. Please stay in touch. Thinking of you.

  • Derek
    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this treatment option.

    I have episodic, bordering on chronic migraine, and when my attacks are so bad that I could use medical intervention, the idea of going to an ER, with the noise and light and my level of pain, is just abhorrent to me. So this treatment option sounds like something I want to learn more about.

    I really haven’t heard a lot about it, maybe because of where I am. I’m in a smallish town in Northern Ontario, Canada. I’m very interested in learning more about the options I would have available to me for this type of treatment.

    Anyone aware of anything in Ontario?

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi @raistlinsghost– Sorry to hear of the frequency of your attacks. I certainly agree about the desire to avoid the ER at all costs when in the midst of one.

    As to whether or not there are these types of treatments available near you, I’m uncertain but I’d be surprised if not given that any doctor’s office, medical spa, or migraine specialist practice should know how to run an IV and many would also have on hand the combination of the fluids mentioned in the article as they’re not unusual (saline, magnesium, toradol, etc).

    It is definitely worth sniffing around about this in between attacks in hopes of lining up something in case of emergency- as it can put us at ease just to know we have options like these.

    I hope someone in our community might chime in about resources in Ontario but in the meantime you might ask whoever you see for your migraine care/treatment.

    Thanks for the question and for being a part of our community. Please stay in touch!

  • Judy
    2 months ago

    Yesterday I ended up at my doctors after suffering with a horrible migraine along with nausea and vomiting. I swore I would never go to the emergency room because I didn’t know how I could even get out of bed much less face the noise and lights. Thank goodness for my husband who half carried me into see the doctor. I was quite a sight…all bent over…hair askew…no bra…no makeup…grabbing a cold pack to my head and curled up in one of their chairs. Fortunately, their new facility has a treatment room and I was given Torodol, fluids, an antiemetic to stop the nausea, and a CT scan. I didn’t leave cured, but was able to go home take my Zomig and a Valium and awoke later as a regular person. I would hate to go through the process again, but I am thankful for a facility that has such an option available. I get 4-5 migraines a week, but they are usually kept under control by my medication as I am quick to take them at the first sign of a headache. I can live with rebound migraines, but not a situation such as I found myself in yesterday. The IV treatment was certainly one I would be interested in if I found myself as sick as I was yesterday.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi Judy- I’m so sorry to hear about that horrific migraine and that you had to leave your home for treatment. There’s nothing worse than having to head out into the world when we are at our most painful.

    The experience and facility you describe sounds far less stressful than that of a regualr ER. Was it some combination of an urgent care treatment center/ doctor’s office such that you didn’t have to wait to be seen? Or was it an ER that had a dedicated room for people with migraine? Whatever the case, wonderful to hear that your experience was relatively positive given the amount of pain you were in.

    Hope you are continuing to find yourself on the mend. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • pennyd
    2 months ago

    IV Hydration Therapy is interesting, but I cannot imagine it being covered by insurance if not done in a clinical (reads licensed) setting. That said, it’s true that pharmacies are providing some services not seen before. I am familiar with the home infusion services but not the spa services. It’s a far cry from the ER!
    I have had success with urgent care treatment for migraine, but not when I needed IV treatment, just a pain shot, & our (MI) laws even on certain drugs have changed in the last 9 months. I’ve not needed to go that far for treatment in that time, which I attribute to Botox, but I believe its effects are wearing off after several years of every-90-days injections.
    It seems, like many contributors to this site, that we learn from each other, & as we seek info from various doctors out there.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi @pennyd– Good point that in many instances IV hydration therapy may not be covered by insurance. It would depend on the practice providing it as well. I have gotten it from a medical spa (not covered) and from my migraine specialist (covered).

    Interesting about your experience with Botox and the efficacy potentially fading over the course of many years. You’re so right that we are learning from one another. I have been taking Botox injections for over a decade now, some treatments seem more effective than others, for whatever reason, but I haven’t noticed an overall decline in efficacy over time.

    I recently started Emgality – and while it didn’t lead to dramatic results, perhaps it, coupled with the Botox, will lead to some actual well days. Have you tried any of the CGRP drugs yet?

    Please stay in touch- so glad you’re a part of our community.

  • CelloGirl
    2 months ago

    I’ve found that SLOWLY sipping on Mountain Dew, Gatorade, peppermint tea, water, and chicken soup while also eating something extremely cold helps me just as much as the IV hydration therapy and meds I get at my doctor’s office. I have also found it helpful to take a couple of Tylenol (no NSAIDs for me) and lay down in a dark, quiet room with binaural beats for migraines. With this method, I am usually able to stop my migraines on my own. My migraine specialist recommended this method for me because my migraines are from sodium deficiency, as well as compression on my trigeminal and occipital nerves. The Mountain Dew helps with the pounding and light sensitivity, the peppermint helps with nausea, and the Gatorade and chicken soup give me sodium.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi CelloGirl- My goodness, what a fascinating combination! Thank you for sharing what works for you. I have never heard of binaural beats. Can you share more?

    Grateful to you for helping shed light on new treatment approaches for all of us.

  • Spash0ne
    2 months ago

    A migraneur friend told me about magnesium sulfate infusions. My neurologist started me on those infusions at once a week for a month, then once every other week for a month, then every three weeks and finally at once a month. The infusions worked well until I got to once a month where they were less effective.

    I went to the neuro’s infusion center where I got 500 mg magnesium sulfate in 250 ml (500 ml when I was dehydrated) saline over an hour. I felt very relaxed after each infusion and my migraines went down to once every couple weeks from a couple a week. My neuro also started me on magnesium oxide tablets 500mg a day.

    All of this helped until I retired and since then I only have had a migraine about once every three months. Now I only take the magnesium oxide tablets every day, no more infusions.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    I’ve never heard of infusions implemented preventively. That is quite interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with that treatment approach.

    So glad to hear your migraine pattern has de-escalated so dramatically since your retirement. Wonderful to hear.

  • ladyhuckleberry
    2 months ago

    Torodol’s bad for kidney patients and for this one I’ve used up all of my good veins for labs due to ck ups and dialysis. They now have to draw blood when they put me on the machine.

  • MidrinMan
    2 months ago

    Hello. I take Slow Mag 2x/day. I have stage 3 kidney disease due to blood pressure medications. I’m off those now. Escaped HMO from hell. New doctor took me off of them. Gave me different BP meds.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    @midrinman– thanks so much for sharing some of your story. Glad you are on different meds which are no longer hurting your kidneys. It is difficult when the only medications that relieve our pain are ones that can hurt our organs (liver/kidneys).

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    You bring up such an important point about how we must let any medical practitioners know our full medical background/issues before taking any new treatments. Toradol is a super strong NSAID (like motrin) so is contraindicated for those dealing with kidney issues (or people who are already taking those medications, so’s not to double up). Again, however, the IV hydration therapy doesn’t have to have Toradol in it to be effective for all. You do, however, have to have a good vein for an IV!

    Thanks for joining this conversation, @ladyhuckleberry! So glad you’re a part of our community.

  • sarahkg
    2 months ago

    Toradol is ok for 5 days a month.

  • FlaLady57
    2 months ago

    Just want to weigh in here; I am a former home care Pharmacist w migraines and agree that the hydration therapy works wonders. After a three day HA, I recently went to hospital ER for hydration and Zofran to get rid of it. For some of us that tend to get dehydrated, this is a huge help and better than any of the other migraine rescue meds. This was a 6K cost though and while I have insurance, it’s ridiculous. I cannot speak for every state but in FL, you have to go to ambulatory infusion center which must conform to many laws and regs OR get this at home via home care orders. Spas are not licensed to do this typically. There is drug dispensing taking place and nursing being practiced here. Why doesn’t CVS and Walgreens do this via their nurse practitioners in their pharmacies? They have to set up ambulatory infusion care. This would be a good business for them – think about pregnant females w Be careful w spas.

  • sarahkg
    2 months ago

    I’m a home infusion RN and home infusion has been around 20+ years. Infusing many many IV modalities. Very safe. Very regulated.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi @FlaLady57 -You bring up such valid and important points regarding the lack of regulation surrounding the delivery of this therapy. Although it’s been around for a while, it’s not yet established in terms of who and how it’s given and therefore we should use caution when/if we seek it out.

    Thank you for issuing this word of caution and care. Hopefully, with time and research that proves its efficacy, we will see costs come down, and more regulations, insurance coverage, and continuity of care across the states for this therapy.

  • sarahkg
    2 months ago

    I have been doing home infusion for 2 years for my migraines.
    It has kept me out of the ER and the hospital.
    My daughter also started doing home infusion for her cyclical vomiting syndrome and abdominal migraines. She has stayed out of the ER for 2 months so far.
    It has changed my ability to live and get back to work full time again.
    If my abortives do not work and I am still going downhill I can call and get my IVs at home. When I travel I have it shipped to where I am at. It keeps me out of the ER while traveling.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    @sarahkg– please say more about this! How do you do this? You have a set up to do an IV from home? Did you receive some sort of training to be able to do this? I’ve never heard of doing a self-IV infusion treatment from the home. Would love to learn more and am grateful to you for sharing your wisdom with us! Thank you!

  • sarahkg
    2 months ago

    A RN comes to your home places an IV.
    Teaches you how to administer your IV medications. An IV can stay in 3-7 days.
    When needed you call your home infusion company.the Pharmacy sends out the medication and supples. Another R. Comes out. Places an IV.
    I actually have a port a cath and manage everything myself. I just call the pharmacy to ship supplies.
    You obviously need an MD order to send to a local home infusion company.your MD can have labs drawn, etc.

  • TinyTiger
    2 months ago

    This sounds great, especially since a lot of us get dehydrated before and during migraines. The only worry I have is it sounds very close to a form of nutrition supplementation called TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition). Now, TPN is used when patients can not tolerate anything in their gastrointestinal systems. A highly common place to see it is the NICU after the babies are born they are placed on TPN and the very lowly introduced to Enteral feeds (via and oral gastric tube or Nasal Gastric Tube). As feeds are tolerated the TPN level drops.

    The problem with long term TPN use is liver damage. Now, I understand this is not longterm or continuous, but you are also dealing with pts that are already highly medically complex. Most are on a large amount of medications. Are they tayloring this to a blood drawn that day for each patient? How often are they suggesting tx’s, and are they working with your providers?

    I am curious because I need to top 2L a day and that can be difficult. If this is a viable option I may look into it. Thanks!!!
    -Auby-

  • sarahkg
    2 months ago

    It’s not TPN. No glucose. No lipids. No amino acids, etc.
    very different.
    I do NS. Magnesium. Toradol. Zofran. Famotodine. Steroids. For 3 days.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi @TinyTiger- These are all very important and good questions – most of which seem medical/clinical in nature so I want to answer them with care. First, therefore, I will forward your question to the practitioner who provided my IV therapy to me to see if she can answer the TPN question.

    As to the question re: practitioners working together, in my case, I did have my migraine specialist working in concert with the practice offering the IV hydration therapy but just to the scale that they had access to my medical record/medications that I take. For me, it was just a one-off therapeutic treatment- but something I can come back to as needed. I think if it became something I was doing regularly in a way that meant I was incorporating it into my treatment plan (say, more than quarterly), I would make sure my migraine specialist was aware of the fact and on board with the approach.

    I’ll come back to you if/when I have more information as to the TPN question. Grateful for your level on engagement! Stay in touch.

  • Tea-leaf
    2 months ago

    This sounds amazing, but would not be available in the UK unless we have the means to pay for private treatment. Even then I can’t see it being prescribed without a GP or similar authorising it first.

    I’d love to hear from any Brit who can tell me otherwise!

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Good and interesting point. I join you in hoping someone from the UK will chime in on this. Thanks for the question.

  • laurianne729
    2 months ago

    I had a neurologist who believed in it about 15 years ago. He also always included a mag sulfate rider with it. It always helped. Unfortunately, I no longer live near his practice and the state of the art where I live currently is below the current standards of practice. The only way I will.go to the hospital is if I’m in unconscious, migraineurs are treated worse than drug seekers. I have an excellent team of doctors who take care of my pain needs so therefore I don’t need the ER. Thank God.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Interesting that you had a specialist who used this approach that long ago- he was ahead of the curve.

    And yes, the ER is no place for a migraineur: https://migraine.com/living-migraine/not-drug-seeking-feeling-judged-when-seeking-medical-care/

    With time and a partnership with a good specialist, we do (hopefully) get to the point that we have what we need at home to avoid having to go to the ER.

    Thanks so much for chiming in! Please stay in touch.

  • glassmind
    2 months ago

    Thanks for the information. I had heard of the therapy, but this is the first I heard it’s use for migraine. Very interesting. I am glad you found benefit.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    2 months ago

    Glad you found it interesting. If you pursue it yourself, please let us know if it proves useful for you! Good to hear from you, as always, @glassmind. Stay in touch.

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