IV Hydration

Which one of the following statements about intravenous (IV) hydration in the last week of life is true:

a) maintaining IV hydration will improve pain management
b) maintaining IV hydration will prevent dry mouth
c) stopping IV hydration will lead to painful muscle cramps
d) stopping IV hydration will lessen dyspnea associated with renal failure

Answer d.

For many years it was considered standard practice that all dying patients in the hospital setting receive intravenous fluids, with the thinking that such care improved symptoms of the dying process. However scant data exists to support this claim for most patients. It is true that in settings where fluid accumulation is a problem, such as in renal, liver or heart failure, intravenous hydration can worsen dyspnea.

See Fast Fact #133 Non Oral Hydration in Palliative Care