IV Lounges’ Are the Latest Health Fad, But Are They Safe?

“Rent-a-drip” IV lounges are popping up across the country, promising speedy recovery for hangover sufferers, jet lag victims and others seeking an intravenous solution to modern dilemmas.

But experts say these lounges are at best a waste of money and at worst potentially dangerous.

“The whole thing is really nonsense,” said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a professor of medicine with the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. “It’s just catering to people’s sense that they’re taking their health into their own hands.”

The IV lounge craze has been spurred on by reports of use by the likes of Rihanna, Cindy Crawford and Simon Cowell. B-list celebrity Lisa Rinna embraced IV treatment on her reality show, “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” with both her and her daughters receiving an intravenous drip in her own living room.

People who go to an IV lounge are offered a variety of different intravenous fluids containing a blend of saline, vitamins and medicines targeted to their needs. For example, a hangover IV bag also typically contains anti-nausea medications.

Treatment costs range from roughly $80 to $875. The practice is generally unregulated, raising concern among the medical community that fast-buck operators could hurt people through unsafe practices, Goldfarb said.

IV lounges are remarkably adaptive to whatever is happening in the national moment. Right now, many lounges are offering drips containing “immunity-boosting” vitamins to flu victims during this severe influenza season.

Elaine Wozniak, owner of the Hydration Lounge in Tucson, Ariz., said she’s provided fluids to about 40 flu patients in her lounge within the past couple of weeks — some were referred to her by local family doctors and nurse practitioners.

“Arizona was probably the state that was hit the worst with the flu bug over the Christmas holiday,” said Wozniak, who herself is a geriatric nurse practitioner. “Instead of sending them to the ER, they come here and they get some fluids just to feel better, even though this really can’t cure their flu.”

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SOURCES: Stanley Goldfarb, M.D., professor, medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia; Elaine Wozniak, GNP-C, owner, Hydration Lounge, Tucson, Ariz.; Robert Glatter, M.D., emergency physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Noah Rosen, M.D., director, Headache Center, Northwell Health's Neuroscience Institute, Manhasset, N.Y.

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